10 of our favourite reads of 2021

Some were our monthly selections, some were very close to being, and others we read after they'd published and wished they had been. All are excellent!

This epic novel from the two-time Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year is a masterwork of tragedy and heartbreak—the story of a life in full. Sublimely wrought in devastating detail, Bodies of Light confirms Jennifer Down as one of the writers defining her generation.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

A uniquely trans take on love, motherhood, and those exes who you just can't quit.

A breathtaking and ambitious debut novel that chronicles the journey of multiple generations of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era, by prize-winning poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.

From award-winning author Sarah Krasnostein comes an exploration of the power of belief. Weaving together the stories of six extraordinary ordinary people, The Believer looks at the stories we tell ourselves to deal with the distance between the world as it is, and the world as we’d like it to be. How they can stunt us – or save us.

After Story by Larissa Behrendt

When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother, Della, on a tour of England’s most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past.

One Hundred Days Alice Pung
One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale exploring the faultlines between love and control. At times tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless brimming with humour, warmth and character. It is a magnificent new work from one of Australia’s most celebrated writers.

Like Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler, Heiny has a magnificent capacity for taking the ordinary stuff of everyday life and making it extraordinary. Her astute observations and quirky but oh-so-vivid cast of characters literally make you laugh out loud. As a reader, you’re so consumed with all the laughing and the sheer delight of the story that you hardly realise how seamlessly Heiny steers the novel into moments of seriousness that elevate it to something profound. As The New York Times Book Review observed, "at its heart, this is a serious story full of lightness."

Oh William! is a luminous novel about the myriad mysteries that make up a marriage, about discovering family secrets, late in life, that rearrange everything we think we know about those closest to us, and the way people continue to live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. 'This is the way of life,' Lucy says. 'The many things we do not know until it is too late.'

Love & Virtue by Diana Reid
Written with a strikingly contemporary voice that is both wickedly clever and incisive, issues of consent, class and institutional privilege, and feminism become provocations for enduring philosophical questions we face today.

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