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The Windy Season by Sam Carmody: A disturbing sense of menace with a unique Aussieness

CarmodyStark, the small west Australian coastal town which is the setting for Sam Carmody’s debut novel, The Windy Season, is fictitious. But as anyone who has travelled off the tourist track to the more remote parts of Australia can attest, it exists under a number of aliases. It’s just the kind of town which might, to the outsider, at first seem attractively unusual. But it doesn’t take long to reveal its real character, an undercurrent of menace that makes you look over your shoulder when walking down the road, even on a sunny day.

Stark is the kind of town where society’s flotsam and jetsam turn up. A human gyre. The wounded and the wounders. This is a place where people really do just disappear. Because they want to. Or sometimes because someone else wants them to.

Review: Attica Locke’s Pleasantville is a potent blend of political and courtroom dramas

AtticaLockeTo an avid reader, one of the prime services of literature awards, in particular the long and short lists, is as guide through the forests of books published around the world. If I hadn’t studied the long list for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction I might easily have completely passed by Pleasantville by American writer Attica Locke. If I hadn’t read Pleasantville I would have missed what I know will remain one of my top books of the year.

Part political drama, part crime and courtroom thriller, Pleasantville is set in 1996 in the run-up to the mayoral elections in Houston, Texas. Axel Hathorne, former police chief and scion of a powerful black political family, is well placed against his opponent, the current white female Attorney General Sandy Wolcott. The prize of being the city’s first black mayor is tantalizingly within his reach.

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