Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami's fantasy novel due out today contains crisp, clear writing, while balladeer John Williamson’s autobiography gives insight to a small-town larrikin, and Lindsey Kelk's About a Girl sequel continues Tess' 20-something antics.

FANTASY
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
Haruki Murakami
Random House $35, ebook $13
REVIEW SUSAN HEWITT
This fantasy novel due out today contains crisp, clear writing — understated, with not a word wasted. No one comes closer than Murakami to making the Japanese psyche more embraceable and here his style is reminiscent of his earliest, rawest work. If Norwegian Wood is a favourite, this will take you back there. Tazaki is a railway station designer — the perfect Tokyo salaryman but with so much going on beyond his colourless facade. Rejected by his university friends, many years later he is still deeply scarred, until he meets a girl who sets out to get some answers. This is a sparse yet intriguing story with minimal Murakami crazy tangents.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Hey True Blue
John Williamson
Michael Joseph $40, ebook $17
REVIEW MATTHEW HOGAN
Bush balladeer John Williamson’s long-awaited autobiography is an insight into how a larrikin from a small country town grew up to be a true symbol of Australiana. Telling vivid tales of performing at major Australian sporting events such as the Sydney Olympics, alongside his experiences singing at the funerals for Sir Donald Bradman and Steve Irwin, Williamson makes these stories relatable. Using his most well-known song lyrics as a marker between chapters, just as Paul Kelly did in How to Make Gravy a few years back, Williamson’s memoir might be more family-friendly but no less engrossing.

CHICK LIT
What a Girl Wants
Lindsey Kelk
HarperCollins $30, ebook $8
REVIEW STEPHANIE PEGLER
In this sequel to About a Girl, Tess is faced with a big decision — does she stay in London and set up an advertising agency with best friend Charlie, who’s just admitted he loves her, or does she accept a dream photography assignment in Milan. Meanwhile Nick, the writer she fell for in Hawaii, isn’t answering her calls because he’s mad she lied about her identity. Tess is one of those girls who gets herself in to a pickle wherever she goes and no doubt many readers will delight in her 20-something antics. But don’t expect a neat ending because there’s another book to come.

CRIME
Want You Dead
Peter James
Macmillan $30, ebook $18
REVIEW SHIRLEY STEPHENSON
Peter James is a renaissance man, writing crime novels, which have been translated into 33 languages, liaising with Sussex police, writing and producing film scripts, and being a member of a rape prevention team. Perhaps his skills explain why Want You Dead reads more like a script than a novel, featuring stilted dialogue in places. The plot is compelling but the characterisations seem hackneyed. Girl meets boy online, boy turns out to be murderous stalker. Add a lock-jimmier victim who escapes the killer and then inexplicably declines police protection to go home for a shower . . . equals not the best crime thriller.

HISTORY
The Colonial Journals
Ken Gelder and Michael Weaver
UWA Publishing, $45
REVIEW ELAINE FRY
The 19th and early 20th centuries were a time of rapid growth in Australia’s journals and magazines. These publications played an important role in fostering “an exuberant literary culture”, reflecting the thinking of the time. Gelder and Weaver’s journals contain a wealth of articles from various publications which capture the aspirations and culture of the era. They are illustrated with 50 colour magazine covers and feature a delightful miscellany of content. Among the highlights is a Katherine Susannah Prichard piece about a coach trip from Broken Hill to Willara. A beautiful collection reflecting Australia’s early literary and social history.

NON-FICTION
The Secret Life of Sleep
Kat Duff
Bloomsbury, $30, ebook $11
REVIEW KIM COUSINS
It’s generally one of those things we only really think about when we’re not getting enough of it. But why do we sleep? This well-researched compendium looks at the scientific and anthropological aspects of sleep, as well as its place in art and literature. Travelling through time and across continents, discover what sleep meant to our ancestors, the ever-changing views on babies and sleep and why industrialisation has made our sleeping habits so unhealthy. Mixing fact with narrative, it’s a lively look at the many reasons why we, and all other animals, regularly close our eyes for hours on end.

The West Australian

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