Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

18 Jan 2014

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

Feb 2014 | $39.95hb *BiP $34.95 | Scribe Publications

Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family's story, to illuminate the pivotal moments of the Zionist century. In doing so, he also sheds new light on the problems and threats that Israel is currently facing. Beginning with his great-grandfather—a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people—Shavit recounts and analyses the diverse experiences of Israeli people, past and present: the idealist young farmer who first grew the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine's booming economy; the immigrant orphans of Europe's Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; and today's architects of Israel's foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms over the tiny country.

Provocative, heartfelt, and powerfully compelling, this is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today's global political landscape.
  • Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli columnist, writer, and commentator on Israeli public television.
  • "While Shavit is being brutally honest regarding the Zionist enterprise, he is also insightful, sensitive, and attentive to the dramatic life-stories of his fascinating heroes and heroines. The result is a unique non-fiction book that has the qualities of fine literature." - Ehud Barak, Former Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Israel

10 Jan 2014

The Kensington Reptilarium by N.J. Gemmell

Nov 2013 | $16.95pb | Random House

December, 1945. When their father goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the four Caddy children are uprooted from their lives in outback Australia and taken to London to live with an uncle they’ve never met: the strange, reclusive and unpredictable Basti. Uncle Basti would clearly prefer to be left alone with his house full of reptiles, but the Caddys are determined to make the most of their new living arrangements. Add in an eccentric neighbour, a meddlesome butler and some less-than-pleased authority figures, and the Caddy children face quite a challenge to have their perfect Christmas. The Kensington Reptilarium is a sweet, whimsical tale about the powerful bonds of family, and about it never being too late to make a change. The story is slightly let down by a meandering plot, but is redeemed by the adorable and kooky elements scattered throughout—including a house brimming with secret passageways and mechanical ladders, a wonderfully unique and memorable cast, and a sweet background love story. This is a must-read for young fans (aged nine to 13) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is the first book for children from author Nikki Gemmell.

Review by Meg Whelan for Books+Publishing

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Sept 2013 | $32.95pb | Vintage Australia

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson

Jun 2013 | $26.99 | Hachette

Mr Wigg is a widower quietly grieving for his recently-deceased wife as he lives his new life without her on their much-reduced farm in New South Wales. There are the usual irritations of ageing: forgetfulness, a chronic medical condition and a child who thinks his parent should be in care. But Mr Wigg, who is a gentle, sensitive man, stays where he is: at home. He tends his garden, preserves its offerings, cooks with his grandchildren and works on the ‘special project’ in his shed. There are no cataclysmic events in Mr Wigg, no teeth-gnashing family dramas. It is a gentle tale winding through the seasons and the mellow years of Mr Wigg’s life. I enjoyed it very much. To find out more about Inga Simpson have a look at her blog ‘Notes from Olvar Wood’ - her stories of living amongst the trees in the Sunshine Coast hinterland are an obvious inspiration for this charming tale.

BiP Staff Review by Leonie

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I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Aug 2013 | $24.95pb | Bantam Press

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found face down in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a hazardous journey, from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruin on the Turkish coast, via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush, in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.