I love books, and I love lists, so when you can combine the two, even better. And sure, everyone’s got a “Best Books of 2010” list (except for Chris Flynn, who has compiled an ace round-up of the year’s best short stories) but what really gets me excited is lists about books NOT EVEN RELEASED YET. As a bookseller, there is nothing we love more then getting our hands on the hottest book that either
1) everybody wants (I actually hid the advance copy of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” in my bag after I got it), or
2) nobody knows they want yet but yeah I read that a few months ago and it was pretty good but what you really should be reading is… You get the idea.

With the horrific death-screech of Christmas retail almost at an end, I’m starting to cast my eyes into the crystal ball of 2011 publishing, and thinking about the books that are going to excite me most. Here are some that have grabbed my interest in recent weeks.

An Uncertain Placeby Fred Vargas

During one of my numerous and ill-advised trips to a discount book store I stumbled across a crime book called Have Mercy On Us All by some French dude. Read it, loved it, and discovered that the dude was a lady. Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of French author, historian and archaeologist Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, who has won the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger a record three times, with the 2007 win coming for her astonishingly good book Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand(just about my favourite crime novel ever).I don’t go out of my way to read crime, but the prospect of a new book featuring Vargas’s shambolic-yet-somehow-Zen detective Commissaire Adamsberg is too good to refuse. Plus, this one contains severed feet left in shoes, and Serbian vampire hunters. What more could you want?

The Pale Kingby David Foster Wallace

What can I say about this except I will be killed by a marauding pack of hipsters if I get my hands on an advance copy of this. Literary Journal “nice guy” Ronnie Scott has already admitted to me that if he saw me with a copy of this book before its release date, he would “cut up my pretty face real good” and steal it (the book, not my face). For those of you who can’t wait a moment longer to get a taste, I would suggest you cut up the pretty face of anyone who owns the sold out 6th “Atlas Edition” of The Lifted Brow, which contains within it an excerpt from The Pale King. Or you could read this book to get you good and ready for what promises to be THE international literary event of 2011.

Past the Shallowsby Favel Parrett

Favel is a dear friend of mine, but that is about to change. Her brilliant, brilliant book (which I have actually read, after hounding my Hachette rep over and over for an advance copy) is coming out at exactly the same time as mine, and I wish it weren’t, because I want May 2011 to be a literary wasteland, save for one book. Unfortunately for me, Past the Shallows is a haunting, lyrical story set in the unique coastline of Tasmania, teaching us of the boldness and fragility of growing up. If you like the writing of Tim Winton, you will love this book. And just look at this freaking gorgeous cover:

Part Two of my 2011 picks coming sooooon…..

But until then, what 2011 books are YOU looking forward to?



  1. >Mr Chris – Thank you very much for this lovely review… I wish we were not coming out at the same time either but I am very very proud to be in such amazing company. I just read a Robert Drewe story called Buffalo Sunday that is the best thing I have read for a long time – it reminded me very much of your writing. You are a brilliant writer and you have the best book cover EVER. May is going to be BIG for Australian writing. Lets sell some books! Fave x

  2. >Looking forward to May very much – for both your book, Chris, and for Favel's. Just don't have the launches on the same night, or you could split the Melbourne/Brisbane difference and have the launches in Sydney ….just a thought!

  3. >Yes, Ottoman Motel will be bigger than the second coming of Christ, but I am also ready Cory Taylor's Me and Mr Booker and this is some seriously good shit. I dipped into T C Boyles new novel When The Killing's Done and it was very hard to stop sneaking a read but I really wanted to start Cory's book so that will have to wait. There is also a book being written by a mutual friend of ours and the drip feed that is coming my way is keeping me fanging for more. Apart from this, there's a new Annie Proulx I'm getting a whiff of that is getting my juices flowing.

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