September Recommended Reads

Tasmanian Recent Release: The Unearthed by Lenny Bartulin


When human remains are discovered in the wilds of the Tasmanian west coast, the dark past comes into the light of the present in this deeply moving novel from the author of Fortune.

There are animals in the camouflage of undergrowth; they forage this final, fading night hour. They hear the grunting men and lift their heads, listen, then bound away: the scrub, the bushes shake and wave, signalling their invisible trajectories.

After decades-old human bones are discovered in the Tasmanian wilderness, Antonia Kovács returns home with questions for her father, a retired police inspector in Queenstown.

Meanwhile, Tom Pilar receives news of an inheritance, from a man he barely remembers, one of his father’s friends from the early days, newly arrived in the island and looking for work.

Set amidst the harsh terrain of the timber and ore industries of the west coast, The Unearthed is a haunting novel about the past and its quiet but tenacious grip on the present. It reveals the tragic connections between the disparate lives of post-war migrants and local workers, and the fallibility of memory, the illusion of truths and the repercussions on real lives.

“An exceptional novel, exquisitely told.” – Mark Brandi

“Deeply human. . . profound.” – Ben Hobson

“Superbly written and propelled by an unsettling Gothic tension.” – Paul Daley


Australian Recent Release: The Idealist by Nicholas Jose

The new work of fiction by the celebrated novelist and essayist Nicholas Jose, set against the turmoil of the independence movement in East Timor.

Set in Australia, East Timor and Washington in the lead up to the East Timorese independence referendum in 1999, The Idealist is a novel which explores the entanglement of private and public life: it is a political mystery, a portrait of a marriage, a reflection on friendship, and a study of a personality as it breaks down under pressure.

Jake, an Australian defence analyst, is torn between his support for the people of East Timor, whose commitment to independence in the face of mounting violence he has experienced personally, and his responsibility for and complicity in the actions of his government. When he is found dead in the garage of his Washington home, his wife Anne is determined to see justice done. Atmospheric, tender, subtle in its portrayal of conflicting allegiances, The Idealist takes the reader into the space of the personal and political with a rare artistry.

“Making a thriller work calls on considerable reserves of discipline, ingenuity and skill. To do it as well as Jose does requires even more: tact, wit, sensitivity and (above all) an ability to breathe life into the conventions of an often inflexible genre.” – Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald

“Always, Jose writes beautifully and sensuously.” – Financial Times

“Jose has a large capacity for feeling at home in a plurality of places. His writing creates a dialogue between Western modernity and older Taoist and Aboriginal spiritualities: that human effort is always subject to unforeseen changes of plan, so that wider patterns are only partly known and perceived as fragments, and so destiny can only be controlled partially.” – Adam Aitken


Kids Recent Release: The Best Hiding Place by Jane Godwin

One, two, three,
four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten …
Coming, ready or not!

Archie has found the best hiding place.

But after a while, it feels too quiet.

Is the game still on?

Has Archie been forgotten?

From bestselling author Jane Godwin and emerging illustrator Sylvia Morris comes a rich and atmospheric story that captures the highs and lows of hide-and-seek, and the joy of being found.

“It’s a beautiful book.” – Your Kids Next Read podcast

“Just like a good game of hide and seek, you will want to shout ‘let’s go again’ as soon as you finish reading it! An absolutely delightful read.” – Kids Reading Guide


Tasmanian Classic: The Memory Room by Christopher Koch

The latest novel from Christopher Koch, twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award.

‘What is a spy? Are they born, or are they made?’

With these words, Vincent Austin analyses his future occupation. Some spies are made, he says, but his kind is born. He is devoted to secrecy for its own sake.

Vincent is orphaned early, and his boyhood in Tasmania is spent with an elderly aunt. His fascination with secrecy and espionage – and much else besides – is shared to an uncanny degree by Erika Lange, daughter of a post-World War German immigrant. She too has lost her mother, and she and Vincent see themselves as twin spirits, inhabiting a shared, platonic world of fantasy and ritual.

At University, Vincent aims to enter Foreign Affairs – an ambition shared by his easygoing friend Derek Bradley. However, in his final year, Vincent is recruited by ASIS – Australia’s overseas secret intelligence service – and his adolescent dream becomes reality. Erika becomes a journalist, eventually entering the overseas service as a press officer. She is an attractive and magnetic woman, but her emotional life is chaotic.

She, Vincent and Derek meet again in 1982, when they are in their thirties, and have all been posted to the Australian Embassy in Beijing. Here, Erika and Bradley begin an affair which is ultimately doomed to fail. At the same time, Vincent attempts an espionage coup which ends in disaster for himself and Derek.

Both men are expelled from China, and are based in Canberra, where Vincent is confined to the ASIS Registry: the ‘memory room’ of the book’s title. This is the year of Star Wars, and the final phase of the Cold War.

Erika, also returning to Australia, becomes a television journalist, and enjoys a period of national prominence. The fantasies of youth have become reality for Erika and Vincent, and lead to a tragic climax for them both. It is left to Derek, who inherits Vincent’s diaries, to contemplate their fate.

A psychological study of a brilliant but eccentric secret intelligence operative, THE MEMORY ROOM is also an exploration of the mystical nature of secrecy itself, and of the consequences of a shared obsession.

“… it is a beautifully written book. The prose is a joy to read.” – Dillwynia Peter

“Koch has the kind of well-crafted style that eases you into a place or relationships.” – Hazel Edwards

“… enthralling and sensitive…” – Peter Burton