We are sharing our summer reading picks for 2022 in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, anthologies, translations, with quotes from reviews during the year in literary journals and and quotes. The books, and their genre categories are displayed in no particular order.
Harvest Lingo is the fourteenth collection of poems by Lionel Fogarty, a Murri man with traditional connections to the Yugambeh people from south of Brisbane and the Kudjela people of north Queensland. He is a leading Indigenous rights activist, and one of Australia’s foremost poets, and this collection displays all of the urgency, energy and linguistic audacity for which Fogarty is known.
Acanthus is gorgeous, rhizomic and orphic. There is joy, luminosity and performative risk in Claire Potter’s poems. She writes in a language of rare compassion and transfiguring intensities. — Michelle Cahill
Inland Sea by Brenda Saunders: With quiet determination and the keen eye of a birdwatcher, Saunders’ Inland Sea unfurls as a love story to Gidgi-Djaru Country, a wondrous world that evolves with the languid pace of millennia.
— Monique Grbec, Westerly
In Losing Face, “Haddad presents us with the impact of intergenerational trauma, woven through a sharp appraisal of modern masculinity and its underlying misogyny.” — Sarah Ayoub, The Guardian
Unlike Woolf, Cahill’s novel explores the interiority of racialised women, particularly those of mixed race. Both Mina and Daisy’s stories depict the precarity of women on the fringes of established categories and structures. Daisy and Woolf is radical, poetic and reflective.
— Lyn Dickens, Kill Your Darlings
Scary Monsters: ‘Michelle de Kretser returns to the haunting questions of travel that thread through previous work and explores tensions between direction and disorientation, mobility and displacement, as well as the act of claiming and disappearing.’
— Intan Paramaditha, Sydney Review of Books
The Dancer is a fascinating and absorbing biography that explores cultural expeditions and exchange between Australia and India; margins and centers. Philipa Cullen’s voice infuses Juer’s prose. Her time in India is rendered exquisitely, the nuances of outsider/insider, teacher/student, thinker/choreographer; all those journeys entwine in ways that affect, inspire and illuminate. — Michelle Cahill
‘Only the finest of writers can hope to convey the mercurial nature of the times we are living though: the sense of slippage; of terror and beauty. Falconer is such a writer. Signs and Wonders is an essential collection.’ — Sophie Cunningham
Tell Me Again ‘Thunig shuffles back and forth in time, juxtaposing the moments of trauma with examples of love and support, forcing the reader to comprehend that the potential for the latter has always existed even in the hardest moments of her life. It is a deeply moving way to structure time in a memoir, and one that Thunig explains is also embedded in Indigenous thinking: ‘I often wonder about timelines and the way a Eurocentric view positions time as linear but as Indigenous peoples we are raised to understand time as circular.’ — Jackie Tang, Readings
‘Resilience blends poetry, fiction and nonfiction — essays and poems sit shoulder-to-shoulder, short fiction converses with memoir. The collection’s formal hybridity, combined with the chorus of First Nations, diasporic, LGBTQIA+ and disabled voices that contribute to its hum, make Resilience a model of the kind of hospitality that pushes back against the structural oppression that concerns many of the anthology’s contributors.’ — Megan Cheong, Aniko Press
BlackLight ‘illuminates the contemporary experiences of mob life and struggles, food, love and loss in Western Sydney and beyond. From future radical warriors, to the glory of El Jannah garlic sauce, these stories cover the complex cultural boundaries and responsibilities that exist for First Nations people in the continued colonial occupation of the Country they live on and the Countries they are from. We hope these works speak to migrant and refugee communities as well, and trust that, together, we can grow in the dark.’ — Hannah Donnelly in conversation with Thuy On, ArtsHub
Jeanine Leane and Judith Beveridge, the editors of Best of Australian Poetry write that ‘Under the pen of the poet each work reflects a slice of national consciousness. We are conscious as we write this that despite significant pressures over many decades, Australia is the only settler colony that still has no treaty with nation’s First Peoples, and there is no voice to Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’ (Introduction, Australian Poetry)
Happy Stories Mostly: ‘Translator Tiffany Tsao has said that one of the things she finds so invigorating about Pasaribu’s writing and stories is “the extent to which queerness is woven through every aspect”. Through her skilful translation, this essential queerness—which goes beyond subject matter—is made visible to an English-speaking audience.’
— Arbnora Selmani, Asymptote (Happy Stories Mostly longlisted in the 2022 International Booker Prize)
‘Myriam Tadessé’s memoir combines formal innovation with a candid look back on her life and the harrowing experiences she’s had with discrimination in her chosen field—and in French society as a whole. Blind Spot feels like a distillation of its author’s life, and a powerful testament to her day-to-day reality.’— Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders
Hélène Gaudy’s ‘(Her) authorial perspective binds together past and present, human and natural worlds, solitary explorers and the civilisation they leave behind, all with knowing intelligence and plangent intensity of feeling.’
— Geordie Williamson, The Saturday Paper