Think Australian newsletter
Image. Advertisement:
Inside the Australian book industry

Australian books heading for the screen, crime writers bound for the US

As season two of the TV series Big Little Lies—adapted from Liane Moriarty’s bestseller of the same name—premieres this month, progress is being made on a number of other screen adaptations of Australian books. In this month’s newsletter we report on four: Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe (which is also being adapted for the stage); Holly Ringland’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart; Holly Throsby’s Goodwood; and Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell’s Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964. You can read more about these projects in Rights sales below.

US crime fans can look forward to the arrival of four Australian crime writers in their country later this year. Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott, Jock Serong and Emma Viskic are embarking on a group tour of the States in November after receiving a joint career development grant. The authors will travel to LA, New York, Boston, Arizona and Texas to meet with publishers, booksellers and readers and promote Australian crime writing.

New York-based literary agent Barbara J Zitwer is setting her sights on bringing more Australian writers to the world after recently selling rights on behalf of Australian authors Jamie Marina Lau and Madeleine Ryan. In an interview with Books+Publishing, she talks about what she sees as the ‘new Australian sensibility’.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

Image. Advertisement:

Stella Prize-winning memoir sold to US, Canada

US and Canadian rights to the Stella Prize-winning memoir The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie (Fourth Estate) have sold to Knopf and Doubleday Canada, respectively. The Erratics follows two daughters who return home to Canada to care for their outlandishly tyrannical mother and their emotionally terrorised father.

Brow Books has sold North American rights to Jamie Marina Lau’s debut novel Pink Mountain on Locust Island to Coffee House Press. ‘Pink Mountain on Locust Island is like nothing else I’ve read,’ said Coffee House Press acquiring editor Lizzie Davis. ‘Urban life, the experience of growing up in a diasporic community, and our responsibilities to ourselves and one another in and outside of art are unpacked here with insight and tenderness.’ Brow Books has recently acquired two more novels from Lau.


Scribe has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Australian writer Madeleine Ryan’s debut literary novel A Room Called Earth, which follows a woman on the autism spectrum as she gets ready to go to a party, arrives at the party, feels overwhelmed, leaves, but then returns. The novel doesn’t mention autism, with Ryan observing: ‘I’m interested in the humanity beneath these kinds of labels, which has a habit of getting lost. I want to take readers on an adventure inside the mind of a young woman who is magical, sensitive, and honest.’

Scribe has also acquired world rights to a new novel by author Patrick Allington called Rise and Shine, ‘a Kafkaesque fable of hope about a future where eight billion souls have perished, and the survivors, huddled in the city-states of Rise and Shine, wage perpetual war against each other’. A university lecturer in English and creative writing, Allington was longlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novel Figurehead (Black Inc.).

Affirm Press has acquired ANZ rights to Australian writer Anna Downes’ debut thriller The Safe Place in a two-book deal, with US, UK & Commonwealth, Dutch, Russian, Hungarian, Croatian and German rights already sold. The Safe Place tells the story of a struggling actor who is offered a job working for a wealthy family on their remote estate in France.

Screen adaptations

Trent Dalton’s multi-award-winning novel Boy Swallows Universe (Fourth Estate) will be adapted into an international TV drama, with screen rights acquired by US-based production company Anonymous Content and its UK spin-off Chapter One, in partnership with Australian film production company Hopscotch Features and Australian actor and producer Joel Edgerton. Rights to the book have been sold in 34 English-language and translation territories.

Holly Throsby’s small-town mystery Goodwood (Allen & Unwin) is being adapted for TV by Australian broadcaster ABC and ABC Studios International. Throsby said: ‘One of the central themes of Goodwood is the relationships between people, especially between strong women. It is so fitting, and an absolute dream for me, to have such an incredible group of women in charge of bringing my book to life on screen.’

A TV adaptation of Holly Ringland’s novel The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Fourth Estate)—which has sold to over 24 territories—has received story development funding from Screen Australia. The eight-part series—about a young girl who is taken in by her estranged grandmother after a family tragedy—will be produced by Australian production company Made Up Stories.

Cascade Films has acquired the film adaptation rights to Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell’s nonfiction book Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964 (Monash University Publishing), which tells the story of a group of writers and artists, including George Johnston, Charmian Clift, Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen, ‘searching, on an idyllic Greek isle, for a more stimulating and real existence than the treadmill of ordinary life’.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.

Image. Advertisement:

Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist announced

The longlist for the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award has been announced. The longlisted titles are: The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette), Flames (Robbie Arnott, Text), Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate), A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador), Inappropriation (Lexi Freiman, Allen & Unwin), A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador), The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text), Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, University of Queensland Press), Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador) and The Lucky Galah (Tracy Sorensen, Picador).

Five books by up-and-coming Australian authors have been shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. They are: YA romance If I Tell You (Alicia Tuckerman, Pantera Press), crime fiction The Rúin (Dervla McTiernan, HarperCollins), poetry collection The Sky Runs Right Through Us (Reneé Pettitt-Schipp, UWA Publishing) and literary fiction The Wounded Sinner (Gus Henderson, Magabala) and You Belong Here (Laurie Steed, Margaret River Press).

A ‘colourful and authoritative’ account of the past, present and likely future of the international accounting and audit firms Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG, entitled The Big Four (Ian Gow & Stuart Kells, La Trobe University Press), has won the Ashurst Business Literature Prize.

A number of Australian authors have won, or are in the running for, international prizes. Publisher and author Angela Meyer has won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition for her forthcoming novella Joan Smokes (Contraband); and Canada-based Australian comics artist Tommi Parrish has won the Lambda Literary Award for a graphic novel for their book The Lie and How We Told It (Fantagraphics).

Jock Serong’s novel Preservation (Text) has been shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Prize, Claire G Coleman’s novel Terra Nullius (Hachette) has been shortlisted for the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for speculative fiction, and Rachael Brown’s true crime book Trace (Scribe) has been longlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association’s (CWA) Dagger Awards.


‘Boy Swallows Universe’ and ‘The Barefoot Investor’ top Australian charts

Trent Dalton’s multi-award-winning Boy Swallows Universe—now in the running for the Miles Franklin Literary Award—remains at the top of the Australian fiction bestsellers chart in May, while Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor shows no signs of relinquishing the top spot in the nonfiction chart. New entries in the fiction chart include Karly Lane’s rural romance Mr Right Now, the second book in the author’s ‘The Callahans of Stringybark Creek’ series, and Victoria Purman’s historical novel The Land Girls, which follows three women who join the Australian Women’s Land Army during World War II. Australia’s bestselling nonfiction writer Peter FitzSimons’ latest book The Catalpa Rescue is one of the new entries in the nonfiction chart; it tells the true story of a daring prison break in Australian history. Also new to the nonfiction chart are the science-based diet book CSIRO Protein Plus and Slow Cooker Central Family Favourites—just in time for the Australian winter.

Australian fiction bestsellers: May

  1. Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate)
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo Publishing)
  3. Nine Perfect Strangers (Liane Moriarty, Macmillan)
  4. Mr Right Now (Karly Lane, Allen & Unwin)
  5. Something in the Wine (Tricia Stringer, Mira)
  6. Bridge of Clay (Markus Zusak, Picador)
  7. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  8. The Land Girls (Victoria Purman, HQ Fiction)
  9. The French Photographer (Natasha Lester, Hachette)
  10. The Rosie Result (Graeme Simsion, Text Publishing)

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: May

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. CSIRO Protein Plus (Jane Bowen & Professor G Brinkworth, Macmillan)
  3. Dark Emu (Bruce Pascoe, Magabala Books)
  4. Easy Keto (Pete Evans, Plum)
  5. The Catalpa Rescue (Peter FitzSimons, Hachette)
  6. Any Ordinary Day (Leigh Sales, Hamish Hamilton)
  7. Slow Cooker Central Family Favourites (Paulene Christie, ABC Books)
  8. The Erratics (Vicki Laveau-Harvie, HarperCollins)
  9. The Barefoot Investor for Families (Scott Pape, HarperCollins)
  10. Australia Day (Stan Grant, HarperCollins)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019
Period covered: 5 May to 1 June 2019
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




Contact us


Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

Editorial assistant
Anthea Yang

Classifieds, jobs and notices

Display advertising

Select newsletters

Select which newsletters you’d like to receive here.
Unsubscribe from individual newsletters here.
Or unsubscribe from all newsletters here.

View articles

Purchase a subscription to Books+Publishing to view all articles on the website.

If you need help with your subscription, please email the Subscriptions team.