We’ve finally reached the pointy end of the year.
All the shops are going stupid with Christmas music, the sense of rush is upon us, people in our town have set up their Christmas light displays out in their front gardens. The CFA are announcing bushfire warnings and high alert days on the radio. Australia Post is working overtime. Schoolkids are rejoicing that school is done for the year…
And lists of The Best of 2017 are appearing on social media and in the news. One of these lists was announced by the ABC Book Club – in its last appearance – only a few days ago, and that is what gave me the idea for this title announcement.
Okay, I’m lying a little! – I always planned to have BEGIN END BEGIN: A #LOVEOZYA ANTHOLOGY as our final book of the year. The selection of stories is a delicious taster of some of the best that Australian YA has to offer, and I reckon it’s a great way to finish off our bookclub year.
OzYA is just that little bit different from YA written anywhere else. In the same way that Nordic noir seems to have its own unique stamp, Australian YA has its own flavour (and it’s not just about the way we spell ‘flavour’ with a ‘u’). I wrote a piece about it recently for The Regal Fox, in which I said that OzYA has a sense of intellectual adventure: we’re still open to trying new things, exploring new ideas and new worlds. I also said that I think Australian YA has a gritty honesty, a straightforward no-bullshit voice that works very well in YA. So it doesn’t matter where the story is set: in an Australian landscape, in outer space, in a sewer, in another country, in a suburban backyard… You can hear that no-bullshit voice shining through.
BEGIN END BEGIN originated in the #LoveOzYA movement, and was spearheaded by Danielle Binks, who has been a powerhouse in the community and edited this anthology of ten stories. Contributors to the collection are all local YA authors with solid reputations: Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Lili Wilkinson, Amie Kaufman, Jaclyn Moriarty, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Danielle Binks herself, and yes, me. The book has taken off in ways that no one expected – it has started conversations about Australian writing, YA fiction, young peoples’ approaches to literature and more. I know of at least one school where it is now listed on the curriculum, and there has been encouragement given to HarperCollins, the publisher, to create a second anthology with another crop of OzYA writers, something I’d be very excited to see happen.
I’m very proud to announce BEGIN END BEGIN: A #LOVEOZYA ANTHOLOGY as our book to round off the year – it seems pretty appropriate for #LoveOzYAbookclub to read this one! You can buy it here at Boomerang Books, and get free shipping by using the ‘loveoz’ code.
I’d also like to give away one copy of BEGIN END BEGIN to a bookclub member – this offer will only be open for 24 hours. Please add your name to comments on the Facebook thread, with ‘Your name loves #LoveOzYA’ to enter. I’ll pick a name out of the hat tomorrow and post the book out to the winner before Christmas (fingers crossed that AusPost gets it to you in a timely manner).
Finally, some housekeeping. This is our final book of 2017. It will take us into the New Year – commentary and a discussion of the book will take place late in January 2018. So don’t stress out if you’ve got other things on: this is our lazy summer read, and there’s no hurry. Our next book will be announced in the first week of February 2018.
I don’t usually advertise myself here in bookclub – I like to just be a benign guiding presence, lol – but if you’d like to keep up with me personally, you’re welcome to go over to my website and join my newsletter (there’s links on the Home page, and other places) for updates. I’m going camping with my family over the holidays, so I’ll be out of range for the next few weeks. But I’ll be back on board by the second week of January, so I’ll see you all then.
#LoveOzYAbookclub has been going strong all year, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of you – everyone who has participated, enjoyed the books, commented in discussions, joined in for live author chats, and otherwise contributed to making this bookclub one of the highlights of my year. Thank you all so much, you’re the very best! All good wishes from me and my family to you and yours – may you all enjoy the holiday season, travel safely, and have a very joyful Christmas and New Year.
#LoveOzYA and read hard!