I am happy to see that "THE RAIN HERON" by Robbie Arnott and "THE LABYRINTH" by Amanda Lohrey have made the shortlist in the Premier's Prize for Fiction category.
I have read both Arnott and Lohrey's books. I love how Arnott pours magical realism into his work, and I enjoyed Lohrey's novel which won the 2021 Miles Franklin award.
I have not read the other two novels but they both sound most interesting and I will probably end up reading them. Good luck to all four authors.
Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for a monstrous act of revenge. Trapped in her grief, Erica retreats from Sydney to a sleepy hamlet on the south coast, near where Daniel is serving his sentence.
There, in a rundown shack by the ocean, she obsesses over building a labyrinth. To create it—to navigate the path through her quandary—Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.
The Labyrinth is a story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children. It is also an examination of how art can be ruthlessly destructive, and restorative. Mesmerising yet disquieting, it shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers.
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Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading—and forgetting.
But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt—as myths merge with reality—both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.
The Rain Heron is the dizzying, dazzling new novel from the author of Flames.
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In 1932, Wanny Woldstad, a young widow, travels to Svalbard, daring to enter the Norwegian trappers’ fiercely guarded male domain. She must prove to Anders Sæterdal, her trapping partner who makes no secret of his disdain, that a woman is fit for the task. Over the course of a Svalbard winter, Wanny and Sæterdal will confront polar bears, traverse glaciers, withstand blizzards and the dangers of sea ice, and hike miles to trap Arctic fox, all in the frigid darkness of the four-month polar night. For Wanny, the darkness hides her own deceptions that, if exposed, speak to the untenable sacrifice of a 1930s woman longing to fulfil a dream.
Alongside the raw, confronting nature of the trappers’ work, is the story of a young blue Arctic fox, itself a hunter, who must eke out a living and navigate the trappers’ world if it is to survive its ﬁrst Arctic winter.
In 1910 the famed escapologist Harry Houdini made an ill-fated attempt to become the first person to fly an aircraft over Australian soil—yet while Houdini is remembered today for his failure, the true record-holder has been forgotten. This quirk of history becomes the focus for the obsessions of Bernard Cripp, world-weary scion of an ailing family circus, who tries to unearth every detail of Houdini’s flight in order to re-enact it. But why is Bernard so single-minded? As his manic testimony unspools, his story takes on a darker tone: he is, in fact, in mourning for a wife and child he has lost to the skies, and paralysed by the uncertainty surrounding their deaths. If his efforts to re-create history cannot bring back his loved ones, can they at least bring him peace as he struggles to live with his loss?
In Waypoints, his outlandish début novel, Adam Ouston embarks on a journey to reclaim a lost sense of awe and wonder from subjects as diverse as Victorian vaudeville and cutting-edge data storage, from the early history of Alzheimer’s disease to the immortality of human consciousness. Blending the solemnity of Sebald with the breathlessness of Bernhard, the result is equal parts rambunctious and ruminative, poignant and hilarious — a wild ride through a storm of grief, ambition, integrity, remembrance, and love.