Booktopia Buzz with Caroline Baum
June 2013 | Breaking News
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BUZZ IN BRIEF
May you live in interesting times, says the Chinese proverb.

Well, perhaps sometimes the times are too interesting. 

Grateful that I have not had to endure the brutality of war, the ignominy of slavery, the inhumanity of sectarianism, the barbarity of backstreet abortions, the paranoia of the Cold War. Even the frenzied hedonism of the twenties seems  a bit extreme in its gaiety. Some writers bring the past into such sharp focus you'd swear you were there.

As for our own times, well, they are certainly throwing up plenty of confronting  new questions of ideology, identity, gender politics and private and public boundaries for writers to explore, new frontiers to map, new terrain to navigate.

I feel lucky to be a reader, right here, right now. I hope you do too.

Kind Regards

Caroline Baum
Editorial Director

Booktopia Buzz

Follow me on Twitter: @mscarobaum

Follow Booktopia on Twitter: @booktopia
BOOK OF THE MONTH
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by NoViolet Bulawayo


Africa is the source of some of the most exciting new voices in fiction and this debut novel is a shining example of energy and originality.

Bulawayo is part of the so-called Born Free generation that were promised a bright future following the end of white rule in Zimbabwe. She explodes on to the page with a furious intensity and a fresh, unforgettable voice: her ten year old narrator, Darling. With her gang of friends, Darling roams the streets of Paradise, the shantytown called she calls home.

There, they play games, steal guavas, see things no child should. Their own logic prompts some peculiar, often very funny conclusions but their lives are riddled with poverty, illness and violence.
 
Shocking, sad, bracing and raw, this is a sparkling debut that celebrates the power  of stories to rise up  from squalor and confer dignity and freedom through the imagination. Bulawayo is a prodigious talent.
 
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REDS UNDER BEDS
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by Lucy Neave


Caroline Baum: In 1938 Australia, the opportunities for ambitious young women who dreamed of becoming scientists were few and far between. So if you are given the chance to work in a lab in the United States, as Annabel is, it's best not to think too much about the purpose of the research into lethal infectious diseases you are assigned. Nor to question the motives of your husband, your colleagues and your boss as microbiology becomes warfare's newest weapon.

An impressively mature and deft debut novel with big themes -  Cold War paranoia  and the ethics of medical research - which builds a convincingly tense atmosphere of malaise.



Australian author
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LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX
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by Nikki Gemmell


Caroline Baum: Long before Fifty Shades Nikki Gemmell made a career of writing sexually explicit fiction that explored fantasy, submission, power and the forbidden as an erotic impulse. Her literary libido shows no signs of needing a dose of Viagra to keep her frisky.

This time she's taken the liberty of updating D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover - a surprising challenge given that we live in seemingly unshockable, uncensored times when many words that used to be taboo no longer have the same impact.

Gemmell has a strong desire to celebrate women's desire, and I welcome that. But maybe I am suffering from what I can only describe, inelegantly, as f#*k fatigue: I wish she'd direct her considerable talent to somewhere above the waist for a change.
 
John Purcell: Come on Caroline! There's more to it than that. Just as there was more to Lady Chatterley's Lover than hedge trimming, hose pipes and the sowing of seeds. The message here is tenderness. And if Nikki gets to her point via a detour up the garden path, well, I for one welcome the diversion.
 
We have a limited number of signed copies of I Take You in stock now. And be sure to watch the fun video we made with Nikki when she dropped by Booktopia.


Australian author
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FEMINISM
Click here for more details or to order DESTROYING THE JOINT
edited by Jane Caro


Caroline Baum: This anthology of destroyers is a welcome reminder of the fury unleashed by Alan Jones and the social movement it gave birth to, forging newly energised alliances and discussion among women of all generations and  reinvigorating feminist discussion in the public arena.

The ensuing conversation introduced many fresh voices to a wider audience and to the media, Great to see writers like Melissa Lucashenko included. The only pity of it is, that despite advertising boycotts the trigger is still in place.

I say keep on destroying the joint until he is gone.
 

Australian authors
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FLAPPER FEVER
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by Sarah Churchwell


Caroline Baum: This is a scholarly, classy antidote to all the Gatsby hoopla surrounding the film. A fascinating blend of biography, history and literary detection it provides rich insights into Fitzgerald and the decadent context that created Gatsby.

Author Sarah Churchwell really knows how make research compelling and how to trawl archives for clues. Includes a fascinating list of words that came into usage in the jazz age which include French kiss, debunk, extrovert and nutritionist.

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FEATURED INTERVIEW
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Watch my exclusive interview with Hannah Kent author of Burial Rites
FROM GUTTER TO GLITTER
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by Kate Manning


Caroline Baum: I like Axie Muldoon, the spirited Irish street kid who goes from gutter to glitter and becomes the most controversial midwife of her time (the 1880s) in Manhattan. She never forgets where she came from, her motives are sound and she's refreshingly pragmatic. It's easy to invest this kind of historical drama (based on a true story) with a bit of Dickensian caricature and  theatrical faux urban grime but Manning avoids those clichés and creates characters and atmosphere full of appealing vitality.


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DARK SIDE OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
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by Ali Alizadeh


Caroline Baum: A collection of linked short stories is nothing new but there's something urgently contemporary about this cosmopolitan story cycle.

The cast of characters tells it all: a spoiled Emirati rich girl, an Iranian asylum seeker, a Liberian refugee, a Ukrainian prostitute, a Chinese gamer.

Welcome to the dark side of the global village.   


Australian author
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A VERY SINGULAR TALENT
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by Colum McCann


Caroline Baum: Colum McCann has a very singular talent: he takes real life people and gives them fictional selves. He did it with Phillippe Petit in Let The Great World Spin and Rudolf Nureyev in Dancer. Now, he's surpassed himself with three stories of individuals in three different eras who crossed the Atlantic between Ireland and America, pursuing a dream, a goal, a mission.

Aviators Alcock and Brown, black Abolitionist Frederick Douglass and US peace negotiator Senator George Mitchell - all men of courage, both physical and psychological, with an idealistic commitment to peace and progress and prepared to take risks for a greater purpose than personal glory.

Interweaving their stories with graceful prose, vivid imagery and an acute and poetic appreciation of human complexity, McCann also introduces  fictional female characters to the three stories for added shape, balance and amplification.The result is a beautiful  braid of human hope.

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HONEST & UNVARNISHED
Click here for more details or to order THE MIRACLE OF LOVE
by Ondine Sherman


Caroline Baum: It would be easy to dismiss Ondine Sherman as a princess except that despite her family's wealth, she was a shy girl with a conscience who wanted to make the world a better place, not a Paris Hilton socialite. Together with her father, she co-founded Voiceless, to advocate for humane treatment for animals.

It's been an effective, high profile success in many ways, but it's also a never-ending crusade  that means facing up to cruelty on a daily basis. Not a glamorous charity option by any means. But Ondine counts her blessings and acknowledges her life of privilege. Her high achieving family (her brother is the producer of Oscar winner The Kings Speech) carry their own burdens of loss and take nothing for granted.

And then, when she gives birth for the second time, she has twins with an extremely rare genetic disorder and her world implodes. No amount of money  can buy a cure. Her character is tested to its very limits. Can she find the inner fortitude to keep it together when faced with the endless sorrow, questions from the curious  and the protracted quest for the right kind of help? Honest, unvarnished, without self-pity, this is a sad story that reminds us all to be grateful for love, family and good health. And that the national disability scheme is a wonderful first step but we've got a long way to go to give the right kind of support to less fortunate parents struggling with similar challenges.


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BORN IN THE USA
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by Philipp Meyer


Caroline Baum: This books weighs in at just under a kilo making it a hefty doorstop. Following on from Meyer's acclaimed debut American Rust, it's also freighted with  comparisons to the greats of Am Lit: Steinbeck, Hemingway, McCarthy.
 
It's hard for a book to bear this double burden of expectation as well as its own bulk, especially when it is a second novel. But I am happy to say that The Son delivers mightily. It is a powerful evocation of the founding mythology of America, a blood-soaked two hundred year epic seen through the eyes of three characters who symbolise the brutality and greed that went into the forging of Texas.

Lassooing his prose with masterly control, Meyer has a cinematic eye (think There Will be Blood meets The Proposition) and a poet's ear.

A prodigious achievement if one can get past the violence.

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FICTION
INTERNATIONAL FICTION
APPETITE
by Philip Kazan
  THE SILVER STAR
by Jeannette Walls
  CONSTANCE
by Patrick McGrath
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THE SON
by Michel Rostain
  THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS
by Anton DiSclafani
  VIENNESE ROMANCE
by David Vogel
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MEMORY PALACE
by Hari Kunzru
  THE SEA OF INNOCENCE
by Kishwar Desai
  IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN
by Vaddey Ratner
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BLOCKBUSTER
THE KILL ROOM
by Jeffery Deaver
  THE TWELVE CHILDREN OF PARIS
by Tim Willocks
  THE DYING HOURS
by Mark Billingham
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AUSTRALIAN FICTION
THREE HOURS LATE
by Nicole Trope
  ATOMIC CITY
by Sally Breen
  A BITTER TASTE
by Annie Hauxwell
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FOR THE YOUNG AND THE YOUNG AT HEART
BABIES
SNORE
by Alison Lester
  HONK HONK! BAA, BAA!
by Petr Horacek
  TIME FOR BED
by Petr Horacek
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CHILDREN
THE CAT, THE RAT AND THE BASEBALL BAT
by Andy Griffiths
  HOLIDAY HEARTBREAK
by Rachel Renee Russell
  SHAHANA
by Rosanne Hawke
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YOUNG ADULT
ANGELFALL
by Susan Ee
  REBOOT
by Amy Tintera
  WILDLIFE
by Fiona Wood
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NON-FICTION
POLITICS
THE MISOGYNY FACTOR
by Anne Summers
  RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY
by Michael Fullilove
  THE YEAR IT ALL FELL DOWN
by Bob Ellis
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MEMOIR
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB
by Lily Koppel
  THE COOKED SEED
by Anchee Min
  SANE NEW WORLD
by Ruby Wax
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HISTORY
A SAVAGE HISTORY
by John Newton
  SHAKESPEARE'S RESTLESS WORLD
by Neil MacGregor
  HISTORY: THE DEFINITIVE VISUAL GUIDE
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IT'S NOT A TUMOUR - IT'S AN AMAZING PRIZE

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TOTAL RECALL
by Arnold Schwarzenegger


Pre-order TOTAL RECALL (B format - edition displayed)  by June 1st 2013 for a chance to win tickets to ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER'S Financial Seminar

Seminar dates:12th June - Perth, 13th June - Sydney, 14th June - Melbourne

Click here for more details or to orderWe have seven double passes to give away. Winners will be announced on the Booktopia blog in the first week of June.

Total Recall is the unbelievably true story of Arnold Schwarzenegger's life.

Born in the small city of Thal, Austria, in 1947, he moved to Los Angeles at the age of 21. Within ten years, he was a millionaire business man. After twenty years, he was the world's biggest movie star.

In 2003, he was Governor of California and a household name around the world.
 

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FOOD
THE SMALL KITCHEN
by Sally Wise
  AWW: COOK IT SLOW
  RICK STEIN'S INDIA
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