BOOKS

HOPSCOTCH. Fast and funny, Hopscotch charts a year in the lives of the endearingly flawed Rosen family, and holds up a mirror to contemporary urban life in Australia, interrogating our endless capacity for self-destruction, longing and love, and asks why we think we could ever find happiness in a city that’s roaring with dysfunction. Picador PanMacmillan.

‘Messer’s healthy sense of the ridiculous, which can also signal a renewal and a way to live in modest hopefulness from day to day, grounds the calamitous events… and her ease in handling a polyphonic structure makes Hopscotch a delight to read.’ 

Dorothy Johnston, Spectrum

‘As Messer’s characters unravel, so her plot winds up and tightens up. That is no mean feat.’ 

Mark Thomas, SMH Entertainment

PROVENANCE. Growing up in an Italian family in 1950s Queensland, Rafaela longs to escape to Melbourne. When she finally seizes her chance, flood-waters halt her train’s progress south. On his way back to Melbourne from cutting cane during the summer, the worldly and altogether different young Sikh scientist named Chanchal captures her heart. Vintage/Random House

‘A good example of the Australian novel recognising its near neighbours in the Asia Pacific…a lovely book’

Nury Vitachi, ABC Radio National

Growing up in an Italian family in 1950s Queensland, Rafaela longs to escape to Melbourne. When she finally seizes her chance, flood-waters halt her train’s progress south. On his way back to Melbourne from cutting cane during the summer, the worldly and altogether different young Sikh scientist named Chanchal captures her heart. Allen & Unwin. Booktopia

The greater the barriers, the more romantic the love. It’s a rule of literature (think Abelard and Heloise, Romeo and Juliet)…Provenance proves it yet again.’

Barry Oakley, The Sydney Morning Herald

BEDLAM – anthology of sleepless nights. Many of literature’s well-known characters have spent nights sleepless: Heathcliff roamed the moors, Hemingway’s waiter didn’t want to close up for the night, Plath’s teenage self stayed up a month. And there are many others who can’t sleep for lust, for joy, for the burden of memory or madness, for despair or their unremitting consciousness. Each of these insomniacs has something special to tell us about the night, those secret hours when all good citizens should be asleep. Allen & Unwin. Abebooks. Biblio.com.

‘Splendid idea — this rich anthology is the very antidote to sleep’

John Barth

NIGHT BY NIGHT. ‘Awake in the night, the heart pounds faster, deeper. It plummets, it lifts again. I could be in love or I could be dying.’  Night by Night explores the world of an insomniac bookseller as she negotiates the territories of her longings and curiosities — and the pragmatics of selling books. McPhee Gribble/Penguin.

‘A sensual and accomplished novel about insomnia, domesticity and menace.’

Glenda Adams

CERTIFIABLE TRUTHS – Stories of Love and Madness. This collection of writing by Australian writers is diverse in its understandings, moving between the skilful and ingenuous ragged horror of the loss of one’s ‘right’ mind, to more writerly examinations where all the ingenuity of the writer has been utilised. Contributors include Carmel Bird, Luke Davies, Sara Dowse, Susan Johnson, Mireille Juchau, Joyce Kornblatt, Jane Messer, Sally Morrison, Tim Richards and Amy Witting. Allen & Unwin.

‘The stories and essays are almost without exception tight and beautifully crafted. They are strikingly different in style and voice. Jane Messer has not rounded up the usual suspects.’

Delia Falconer, Australian Book Review