2006 Best of Year Lists

A round-up of the Best of Year Lists:

In "The Guardian", Mariella Frostrup chooses: "Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey offers muscular prose and a story that whips its way from Sydney to New York through the pretence of the art world, asks interesting questions and offers a rollicking adventure"; MJ Hyland writes: "My favourite book of 2005/2006 was Jose Saramago's Seeing. It doesn't match Blindness but is extraordinary nevertheless. Saramago is a smart and profoundly strange writer"; and Siri Hustvedt: "Theft by Peter Carey. His sentences always crackle. In Theft, it was the relation between the two brothers and the keen realisation of each voice that I especially loved"; Andrea Levy Chose Kate Grenville's The Secret River; Hilary Mantel: "The novel that has intrigued me most this year is MJ Hyland's Booker-shortlisted Carry Me Down about a giant boy growing up in Ireland in the 1970s. It is impossible to guess what this original talent will produce next"; and Colm Tóibín states "Carmen Callil's Bad Faith is a meticulously researched and shocking account of the rise and the rule of the venal anti-Semite Louis Darquier who, amazingly, held power in Vichy France and was responsible for the deaths of many people. The complex story is told with real narrative skill and contained indignation".

Marcel Berlins, in "The Times", picks Peter Temple's The Broken Shore in his Best of Crime list and describes it as "a wonderful surprise, full of rich characterisation, sharp dialogue, believable emotions and a pungent whiff of small-town Australia. Joe Cashin's guilt over a bungled stakeout has reduced the tough Melbourne cop to a tormented loner in a shabby resort. Aboriginal boys are suspected of killing a local worthy. Seeking the truth provokes a traumatic journey through the town's buried secrets, and those of Cashin's own family."

Still in "The Times" and Gordon Ramsay was impressed with Justin North and his book Becassé which is "is part travelogue, part recipe book and takes us from pigeon farms in Victoria to fishing villages in Tasmania and blood orange farms near Canberra. Some of the recipes are quite cheffy, but at their heart is North's love of properly sourced food. The section on flavoured salts is particularly fascinating."

In the Children's, age 11+ section, Amanda Craig lists "Michael Morpurgo's Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea is also about love and sea. Arthur is sent from Liverpool to Australia to escape the Second World War but finds cruelty and forced labour in the Outback. Years later his daughter Allie makes the return journey alone in a sailing boat. Lyrical and moving, it is one of the former Children's Laureate's best books for years."

It was a bit of a surprise to find any Australian books listed in Canada's "Globe and Mail" but Andrew Nikiforuk chose The Weather Makers: How We are Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery: "Australian paleontologist Tim Flannery's highly critical and maddeningly important analysis of the globe's wacky carbon dictatorship will fuel dinner arguments, spark school debates and rudely challenge the deniers. Flannery's warning is blunt, simple and accurate: Business as usual will mean the inevitable collapse of civilization. He does think we can still prevent chaos with modest behavioural changes that won't send Homo economicus to bankruptcy court."

Later in the same list, Mark Frutkin includes The Secret River by Kate Grenville: "Through the lives of the family of William Thornhill, his wife Sal and their two young children, Grenville delivers a novel that goes to the heart of Australia's settling by British convicts and their uneasy relationship with the aboriginals of that raw, sun-scorched island. She masterfully creates three distinct, believable worlds: down-and-out London in the 1790s; Sydney, Australia, in its first rough days; and a 100-acre freehold surrounded by untamed bush."

And Martin Levin choses Carry Me Down by M. J. Hyland, which is "a very fine book, and its half-daft 11-year-old narrator, John Egan, a truly memorable creation. The novel is his account of a crucial year in his life in a rural Irish cottage not far from Dublin, where he lives with his unemployed, angry and intellectually pretentious father, his now-needy, now-remote mother and his more controlling than loving grandmother. John feels certain that he is destined for greatness, owing to a self-proclaimed genius: an ability to tell when someone is lying -- although, in quasi-autistic fashion, he can't quite work out why people lie."

In "The New Statesman", Christopher Bray says "David Thomson's Nicole Kidman was a scalpel-subtle probing of what it means to be an actor"; and Geoffrey Robertson finds that "Tom Keneally's The Commonwealth of Thieves is thoughtful, readable and revelatory, especially about the admirable Admiral Arthur Phillip, whose humanity and compassion towards Aborigines and convicts was extraordinary in an age of savagery and slavery. The British have never honoured Phillip (probably because he was Jewish), so it is appropriate for Australians to claim him as their 'founding father', without whose leadership the country would have been colonised by the French, who do not play cricket."

There's more than a good chance this won't be the last of them. The Australian papers haven't listed their yet for one thing.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 27, 2006 12:38 PM.

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