Need a good read this weekend? How about one of Australia’s best – as voted by the Primer team (plus a few honorary extras, because… uh… there’s not that many of us).
Recommended by Andreea Nemes
I didn’t grow up in Australia but Trent Dalton’s writing makes me feel like I was there in the suburbs of Brisbane in 1985. I felt the heat of the summer and the oppression of living in poverty amongst drugs.
The magic of this book is that despite all that, it never feels bleak. There is hope and joy and kindness. The story of Eli and the summer his life begins to change will scare you, shock you and likely bring you to tears. Eli is the kind of boy you might wish your son to be – a gentle soul trying to do the right thing. This book is part mystery and part love story, wrapped up in beautifully evocative language. Trent – more please!
(Ed’s note: Anna here. I second this recommendation – I loved this book!)
Recommended by Sheree Strange from Keeping Up With The Penguins
The Slap does exactly what it says on the tin: it tells the story of a single slap, one man disciplining a child who is not his own at a suburban barbecue. The repercussions of that one action reverberate through the lives of all who were present. It’s a powerful exploration of family, domesticity, and loyalty in European-Australian suburbia.
Recommended by Anna Saunders, Primer co-founder
When I first moved to Australia 15 years ago, it was Tim Winton’s evocative writing – his descriptions of dusty, sunburnt towns and wild and rugged surf beaches – that helped me grasp the raw beauty of my new home.
I devoured all his books, and to me, Breath is the best, marrying a dark and compelling plotline with his trademark lyricism. It even inspired us to holiday in WA recently!
Carpentaria, Alexis Wright
Recommended by Felicity Robinson, Primer co-founder
This is my favourite kind of book, where the lines between myth and reality shimmer and blur. First published in 2006, the novel is set in the perfectly-named town of Desperance in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and tells tales of the vivid characters who live there, like laconic river man Normal Phantom – whose wife Angel Day is described wryly as a “hornets nest waiting to be disturbed”.
With a plot that involves mining companies and land ownership, this is a lyrical, compelling read that still feels very current.
Recommended by Laura Brading of Well Read Books
The Spare Room examines the friendship of two women, one of whom is dying and the other who is tasked with looking after her while she receives some questionable treatment.
A stark and compulsive read, The Spare Room says so much in so few pages, and does so in that classically unassuming, how-does-she-do-it Helen Garner way. I don’t like picking favourites but show me a book that is more unsentimental and yet filled with the complicated nuances of relationships at their most volatile.
Recommended by Amy Thunig, a Gamilaroi woman and an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University
In a summer which has already proven to be one of extremes it is a not insignificant that the book I recommend also happens to be one dedicated ‘for the three salts rivers of Mallacoota’. In an era where we are pressed for time, ‘Salt’ (2019), a collection of Bruce Pascoe’s most celebrated essays and stories, provides the reader with small moments of reprieve and beauty.