The City of Devi
The third book in Suri's trilogy brings Bollywood to the Apocalypse. The setting is Mumbai, largely deserted for fear of nuclear war. Two narrators converge: Sarita, a Hindu statistician searching for her husband, and Jaz, gay and Muslim. It reads more like magic realism than the detailed social breakdowns of speculative fiction; not much is new here, apart from the Indian setting. And yet it has its own vibrancy.
Tasmania: The Tipping Point?
Tasmania is not like the rest of Australia, as this varied collection demonstrates. Essays, reportage, memoir, fiction, all explore a different aspect of the island. Some constant themes are the convict past and old race hatreds. The picks include Jo Chandler on science and the island, and Danielle Wood on how health cuts have created hell for parents. Matthew Evans discusses boutique farming; Fleur Fallon, the family tree.
Bay of Fires
Atmospheric settings are the mark of superior crime fiction, with the background so intensely realised as to almost become a character - Gee shows she can draw geography. An assortment of characters meet at a secluded Tasmanian holiday site. They all become suspects when a young tourist is murdered. Is a serial killer at work? Everybody has their theories, and talk soon gets nasty. Works equally well as realism and suspense.
BOOKS THAT CHANGED ME: Catherine Jinks
The Sword of Honour Trilogy, Evelyn Waugh
Not one of these three books is in my top-five list of favourites (which happens to include Madame Bovary, New Grub Street and Revolutionary Road). But Waugh's trilogy is important to me because it gave me something to emulate when I was young. The elegance and whiplash humour of his writing was unbeatable - except perhaps by Jane Austen. I still want to be as good as Evelyn Waugh.
Catherine Jinks' books for children, teenagers and adults have been published to wide acclaim. Her new book, A Very Unusual Pursuit: City of Orphans, was published by Allen & Unwin in January.