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Tropics, Sea Breezes, and Verandahs: Kristina Olsson’s Summer Reading list

December 19, 2018

About the Author:

Kristina Olsson is a journalist and the award-winning author of the novels ShellIn One Skin, and The China Garden, and two works of nonfiction, Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir and Kilroy was Here. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

Purchase a copy of Shell here 

Read our full review of Shell here 

It’s Raining in Mango – Thea Astley

Of course. The book is set in the pea soup air of the tropics, described as only a Queenslander could. The ‘lewdly mouldering heat paws at her…’ Astley won the Miles Franklin three times, and it’s obvious why.

12 Edmondstone Street – David Malouf

Queensland-born writers understand heat. Malouf describes the house he grew up in as if the wood was still part of the forest: ‘the creak of timber as the day’s heat seeps away’, the ‘raised tent flaps’ of verandahs, the breezes and foliage that ‘break in at window level’. It utterly evokes Brisbane summer.

The Anatomy of Wings – Karen Foxlee

Foxlee sets this evocative novel about youth and grief in an inland mining town, and I can feel the heat, the dry call of cicadas, the crush of dead leaves beneath your feet. She provokes all the senses: the reader can hear and smell the bruising sun, feel the harshness of raw emotion. Yes, she’s a Queenslander too.

Five Bells – Gail Jones

Sydney in summer: a blowsy summer city, showing itself off. I never tire of the introduction we get from four characters, each seeing the place through a prism of sunlight and emotion. A ferry bumps ‘the small jetty of a paradise everyone took for granted’.

Monkey Grip – Helen Garner

For me, the characters in this astounding novel move around in endless summer, and Nora is always cycling slowly towards Fitzroy baths with her little daughter, Grace, or lying indolently on towels or beneath ticking fans. Reading it felt like the long summer of my own growing up.


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