Of 2009’s emerging Australian novelists (such a silly term: emerging from what?) Craig Silvey’s second novel, Jasper Jones (Allen & Unwin), stands out. A dark and funny morality tale set in a 1960s Western Australian mining town, it ruminates on death, secrets, racism, dodgy parenting and adolescence. For anybody who once dreamed of sporting greatness, the cricket match is pure joy.
In a year when there were too many books written about Charles Darwin (who turned two hundred), Iain McCalman’s Darwin’s Armada: How Four Voyages to Australasia Won the Battle for Evolution and Changed the World (Viking, reviewed 3/09) offers entertaining and erudite accounts of landmark expeditions by Darwin and three men who became his great allies: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley and Alfred Wallace.