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Artist and author Leigh Hobbs named as new Australian Children's Laureate

A poster design for Old Tom (1994).

JASON STEGER 12:15am The creator of such subversive characters as Old Tom, Mr Chicken and Horrible Harriet has been named as the next Australian Children's Laureate.

Leading Australian historian and public intellectual John Hirst has died

Australian History In 7 Questions, by John Hirst.

JASON STEGER John Hirst, leading Australian historian and public intellectual, has died at the age of 73.

Book reviews: Great Calculations, Best Science Writing, Dr Karl, We Are Stardust

Dr Karl Short Back and Science, by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

Frank O'Shea The latest in top-notch science writing across a range of fields.

Orange Is the New Black's Piper Kerman on the trouble with prison

<i>Orange Is the New Black</i> author Piper Kerman on the set of the show.

Jenny Valentish The protagonist of Orange is the New Black comes to Sydney to discuss the problem with prisons and the privilege of memoir writing.

Litbits: February 6

Author Mark Dapin? talks about his Vietnam War novel, R&R, at Muse Canberra on February 7.

RON CERABONA  Literary events in Canberra.

Megan Jacobson: Books that changed me

Author Megan Jacobson shares influential books from her past.

Megan Jacobson works in TV news production at the ABC and has written questions for TV games, scripts for TV dramas and short stories.

Boomer or millennial, your slang shows your age

This country's cacks have been steadily usurped by ROFLs. Illustration: John Shakespeare

David Astle Forget your wrinkles, your sunspots, your dentistry. Your age can be calculated using language.

Book extract

Randolph Stow's farewell to Australia for a life of self-exile

Randolph Stow, taken in the village of Dedham, Essex, by his WA friend William Grono while he was visiting Mick in August 1970.

Suzanne Falkiner A new biography of Randolph Stow, the Perth-born author of great Australian novels including The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea and To the Islands, explores his withdrawal from his home country, public life and writing itself. On his last visit he felt like an outsider in the Sydney literary scene, writes SUZANNE FALKINER.

Book news

Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence: the book, the film, the collection

Orhan Pamuk at his Museum of Innocence in an Istanbul house, where   everyday objects from clothing and ornaments to photographs and maps are on display.

SUSAN WYNDHAM "The future of museums is inside our own homes" – Orhan Pamuk

JK Rowling Chided

JK Rowling chipped on social media for Africa 'gaffe'

British author J.K. Rowling makes clarification.

LINDA MORRIS Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has ignited a debate amongst fans of the wizarding world.

Cure review: Jo Marchant's fascinating exploration of evolving human science

Are these pills effective medicine or simply a placebo?

Natasha Mitchell Jo Marchant's Cure explores the territory of placebo medicine.

Rain Dogs review: Adrian McKinty's fifth Sean Duffy novel has bite

Crime writer Adrian McKinty.

Sue Turnbull Adrian McKinty's protaganist is caught up in a murder mystery that will brush with Northern Ireland's economic future.

How Fran Bryson captured the essence of Brazil in her travel book

In Brazil, Fran Bryson. The book is at its most effective when Bryson is writing about the experiences that made her most uncomfortable.

Jane Sullivan For her first book, In Brazil, Fran Bryson immersed herself in all-things Brazilian.

The Hotel Years review: A collection of Joseph Roth's compassionate journalism

Joseph Roth - an apparently casual but in fact acutely alert watcher.

Peter Pierce Joseph Roth was a great writer who excelled at fiction and journalism. The Hotel Years offers a geographical and historical traverse of Europe between the wars.

The High Places review: Fiona McFarlane's stories display her familiar ambiguity

The High Places by Fiona McFarlane.

Helen Elliott Fiona McFarlane has followed up her acclaimed first novel, The Night Guest, with a collection of short stories.

Short reviews of fiction from Australia and overseas

Am I Cold, by Martin Kongstad.

Cameron Woodhead Short reviews of fiction by Ian McGuire, Dominique Wilson, Leanne Hall and Martin Konstad.

Short reviews of non-fiction from Australia and overseas

Colouring the Rainbow, edited by Dino Hodge.

Fiona Capp Short reviews of non-fiction by Adam Skolnick, Clive Small and Tom Gilling, Marianne van Velzen and Dino Hodge.

Fever at Dawn review: Peter Gardos' touching account of a curious courtship

Fever at Dawn, by Peter Gardos, is a story of a curious courtship.

Andrew Riemer Peter Gardos is a film-maker; this first novel is based on a forthcoming movie and so Fever at Dawn is constructed around highly visual scenes

Turning Pages: The appeal of Karl Ove Knausgaard's emotional honesty

A Man in Love is one of six volumes of the autobiography of Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Jane Sullivan A Man in Love is a book about "female" feelings that could only have been written by a man. Karl Ove Knausgaard never spares himself, either in his prose or in his life.

SPQR review: Mary Beard explains why ancient Rome still matters

SPQR by Mary Beard subtly invites the reader to speculate upon the parallels between the modern world and ancient civilisation.

Ray Cassin SPQR is a general history of Rome that can fairly be called the summation of Mary Beard's life's work as an interpreter of ancient civilisation.

Poem: Beach Collection by Ian Syson is about fate of Syrian refugees

A boy hugs a young child after their arrival aboard a dinghy with other migrants from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.  A migration monitoring agency says deaths of refugees and migrants crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece are

Ian Syson Ian Syson's moving poem about the plight of Syrian refugees attempting to find sanctuary.

Bookmarks: News and views from the book world

Illustration: Andrew Dyson

JASON STEGER Here comes the all-guzzling Amazon, the big sales at AbeBooks; Charlotte Jay's Edgar award; Ingrid Betancourt's novel of oppression; the launch of Best Poems 2015.

Perverts, throwbacks and degenerate gamblers - a cult bookshop no more

Adam Emslie is sad to be selling Polyester Books.

CHRIS JOHNSTON It's been targeted by authorities and crazies - now the doors are closing on Polyester Books.

Independent bookshops: Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See tops bestsellers

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer-winning All the Light We Cannot See hits top spot in the independent bookshop charts.

Price War

What Amazon and Booktopia's face-off means for readers

Australian Author Kate Morton indulges in her favourite summer reads.

Linda Morris and Susan Wyndham Amazon's latest Australian venture might disappoint book readers.

Good government requires useful information, not mere memories: review of Laura Tingle's 'Political Amnesia' Quarterly Essay

Another public service department has rejected a proposed pay deal.

Opinion How do we 'fix' policymaking? Respect institutions, evaluate policies properly, and discuss them deeply and openly.

Anna North on killing Sophie Stark

Anna North, author of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark.

KAREN HARDY Anna North knew early on that Sophie Stark would die.

Books that changed me: Clara Bensen

Author Clara Bensen

Travel, in the real world and in the mind, is a theme of well-travelled author's list of transformational books.

Litbits January 30 2016

R&R author Mark Dapin .

RON CERABONA  Literary news and events in Canberra.

Mark Dapin aims to fill a gap in our understanding of military history

People's choice winner Mark Dapin during the NIB Literary Award Presentation in 2015.

SALLY PRYOR Mark Dapin is not interested in people like him. He doesn't want to read or write about those who have similar lives, share the same beliefs, see the world the same way. He knows all that stuff already; why not look further for writing fodder?

Ouch

Fifty Shades of Grey publisher Amanda Hayward ordered to pay $18.5m to partner

Amanda Hayward ... will appeal judge's decision.

NICK GALVIN A US judge has ordered Australian publisher Amanda Hayward to pay more than $18.5 million in compensation, costs and interest to her former business partner in a long-running stoush over profits from the runaway erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.

Book news

The rise and rise of Anthony Doerr's novel All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr, the author of All the Light We Cannot See, has watched the book's popularity grow.

SUSAN WYNDHAM How readers built a bestseller, and how another book divides readers.

Gail O'Brien biography 'This Is Gail' reveals spiritual journey after death of surgeon Chris O'Brien

Gail O'Brien at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, named after her late husband.

Phoebe Moloney Gail O'Brien, the wife of the late RPA surgeon Chris O'Brien, AO, says she has experienced post-traumatic flourishing after a series of family tragedies.

Larissa Behrendt: Unpicking the story of Eliza Fraser

Larissa Behrendt explores a collision of cultures in Finding Eliza.

Susan Chenery A colonial story of hardship and humiliation after a 19th-century shipwreck is unpicked to reveal the Indigenous perspective.

Bookmarks: News and views from the book world

Ilustration: Andrew Dyson

JASON STEGER Delight all round at the VPLAs; Robotham up for the Edgars; a close call for Wiley Cash; and the return of Carol Shields.

The Blessing review: Adrian Caesar's love story across the religious divide

The Blessing by Adrian Caesar is about a young couple in Ireland.

Owen Richardson The Blessing is about young love threatened by the forces of bigotry and has immediate appeal.

Playwright Mary Anne Butler wins $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature

Mary Anne Butler has won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for drama.

JASON STEGER Mary Anne Butler's prize-winning play Broken is a three-handed drama that bounces off a statement by Raymond Carver that says ''emptiness is the beginning of all things''.

Language

Wordplay: Offbeat origins, from miniskirts to snakes

Illustration: Simon Letch

David Astle What's the nine-letter word hiding in OPILOIFTRO? The Target puzzle asks such a question daily. Sometimes the answer will jump out. Other times, no matter the number of tweaks, the best you can manage is ROOFPILOT.

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist review: A social novel like a protest

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa.

Eleanor Limprecht Your Heart ... is set on the day during the 1999 WTO protest in Seattle, which was marked by violence from protesters and police.

Napoleon's Roads: Stories from David Brooks, one of our most versatile writers

David Brooks is one of Australia's most skilled and versatile writers.

Peter Pierce Readers are likely to be engrossed from the start by the bright intelligence and muted sensuality of the latest performance by David Brooks

The Romanovs review: The tragedies and glory of Russia's royal dynasty

The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Andre van Loon The Romanovs is old-fashioned narrative history at its colourful and unpretentious best.

Dodge Rose review: A striking modernist debut novel from a young Australian

Cox's masterful use of language makes Dodge Rose a fascinating work of fiction.

Dominic Amerena Those readers who want a work that tests the limits of language may find Dodge Rose could be the perfect book.

Short reviews of non-fiction from Australia and overseas

Notes on the Death of Culture
Mario Vargas Llosa

Steven Carroll Short reviews of non-fiction by Mario Vargas Llosa, Helen & Serge Cerne, Kankawa Nagarra, Olive Knight and Rozzi Bazzani.

Reviews of books by Libby Sommer, Jon Steiner, Oscar Coop-Phane and Peter Corris

That Empty Feeling, by Peter Corris

Kerryn Goldsworthy Short reviews of fiction by Libby Sommer, Jon Steiner, Oscar Coop-Phane and Peter Corris

Turning Pages: When a writer's death is stranger than fiction

Virginia Woolf: filled her pockets with stones and walked straight into the Ouse River.

Jane Sullivan Most writers die like anyone else but sometimes their deaths are bizarre, deliberate or downright sad.

The Mountain Shadow review: A sequel that falls far short of its predecessor

The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

Cameron Woodhead Gregory David Roberts' flaws as a writer have grown like choking vines in this sequel, and that's a huge disappointment.

Columns

Bookmarks

A look at what's going on in the books world at home and abroad.

Undercover

News and views on books, writers and publishing.

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