Best of 2017 - Most Underrated Fiction

This page is where you’ll find our secret favourites - the books which we absolutely loved at Angus & Robertson Bookworld but which somehow flew under the radar.

We’re here to put them in the spotlight where they belong - scroll down to discover a whole trove of hidden literary treasures that we think you’re going to love!

Tin Man

Tin Man

 
5/5 Rating 1 Reviews

The unforgettable and achingly tender new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller When God was a Rabbit and the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller A Year of Marvellous Ways.

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.

Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.

Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:

In Sarah Winman’s new novel Tin Man, the idea that men and boys are capable of beautiful things prevails throughout. After reading this book, I am left without doubt that this is absolutely true.

With Tin Man, Sarah Winman proves that great beauty can exist at the intersection of grief and love. She does this through her portrayal of Ellis and Michael, two lovingly rendered characters who meet as young boys. Ellis and Michael share a fragile intimacy that must withstand the intervention of life and other love as they grow up together and then drift in and out of each other’s lives. Winman has split the novel into two parts that are each told from different perspectives. One captures Ellis as a lonely older man grieving the loss of his beloved wife Annie, while the other captures Michael as a despondent young man caught in the wake of Ellis and Annie’s love. By splitting their stories, Winman slowly reveals a series of intimate moments in the course of a life that was shared by two men in pursuit of beautiful things, and it’s a treasure to read.

Deeply moving without being heavy, this is a rare and tender novel that will quietly break your heart and mold it back together all in one.

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
25/07/2017
20%
OFF
RRP  $29.99 $24.25
The Heart's Invisible Furies

Truly the best of John Boyne - hilarious, touching and deeply sad The Heart's Invisible Furies is the breakout book Boyne was born to write.

'By turns savvy, witty and achingly sad, this is a novelist at the top of his game.' Mail on Sunday

Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice but to believe that the nun she entrusts her child to will find him a better life.

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he’s never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as a curious pet than a son. But it is all he has ever known.

And so begins one man’s desperate search to find his place in the world. Unspooling and unseeing, Cyril is a misguided, heart-breaking, heartbroken fool. Buffeted by the harsh winds of circumstance towards the one thing that might save him from himself, but when opportunity knocks, will he have the courage, finally, take it?

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
02/01/2018
14%
OFF
RRP  $19.99 $17.25
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

An exuberantly imagined story of a father trying to shake off his criminal past, and his daughter's need for answers about her mother's death.

Bursting with imaginative exuberance, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti has been described as 'One part Quentin Tarantino, and one part Scheherazade' (Ann Patchett) and will appeal to fans of The Sisters Brothers or The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife's hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother's mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past - a past that eventually spills over into his daughter's present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come.

Both a coming of age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the price we pay to protect the people we love.

Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:

Most coming of age novels don’t tend to feature grizzled, gun-toting fathers with crooked pasts and teenage girls with a penchant for violence, but The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is quite unlike most coming of age novels. This is an exceptionally good thing.

Twelve Lives follows ex-con Samuel Hawley, a father running from the gaping hole left in his life by the mysterious death of his beloved wife with his prickly, yet strangely lovable daughter Loo in tow. With this book, award-winning author Hannah Tinti has crafted a tender story of grief and guilt, punctuated by the spikiness of adolescent womanhood. Over it all lies the spectre of Sam’s dangerous past, from which he and now Loo cannot ever seem to escape unscathed. The overhanging threat of danger and violence becomes an unlikely, yet masterful backdrop to Loo’s discovery of adulthood, and it makes this book an intensely compelling read. Reading it is like poking a bruise; it hurts but it is strangely satisfying. I loved it!

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
28/03/2017
  $29.99
Little Fires Everywhere

The New York Times Top Ten Bestseller

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost...

'To say I love this book is an understatement...It moved me to tears' Reese Witherspoon

'Just read it...Outstanding' Matt Haig

'Highly recommended, beautifully written and thought-provoking'

'An engrossing read'

'Absolutely brilliant'

'Great characters, interesting plot that leaves you desperate to read more and written beautifully. I loved it and highly recommend it!'

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
12/09/2017
  $29.99
On The Java Ridge

From the prize-winning author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket and Quota comes a timely literary political thriller with a cracking narrative and heart-stopping writing.

Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana.

In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.

A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.

The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.

With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian.

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
31/07/2017
20%
OFF
RRP  $29.99 $24.25
Atlantic Black

**Highly Commended 2018 Victorian Premier's Award**

In this haunting new novel, Katerina Klova and her mother are crossing the Atlantic by ocean liner.

When Anne suffers a psychotic breakdown, Katerina is left alone on a ship full of strangers who span classes and stations, all of whom carry their ambitions, fears and obsessions with them. For a seventeen-year-old girl, the daughter of an ambassador, it’s an exciting, frightening world to navigate.

Atlantic Black is a psychologically intense and affecting story of unexpected familial betrayal, of a mother and daughter's relationship, of a brother and father whose voices resonate from afar. Personal loneliness, love and loss, are tightly bound to the wider reality of a world set on a fateful course. The legacy of violence, and of how the First World War precipitated the Second World War reverberates as if ‘tolling on the inside of a church bell’. Through the eyes of Katerina and her own family’s place within a fracturing world, we see the way damage, yet also hope, are passed from one generation to another. A.S. Patrić's writing is achingly tender, the tone merciless but heartbreaking in its compassion.

The story takes place over one day and night, New Year's Eve, 1939. The RMS Aquitania steams across the Atlantic Ocean. On the horizon, the world is about to explode.

Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:

A.S. Patric’s followup to his Miles Franklin-winning novel Black Rock White City is a captivating achievement in storytelling. Claustrophobic in feel yet colossal in emotional scale, Atlantic Black is an unsettling glimpse at how the echoes of past violence ring through into the present.

Patric sets his story in 1939, where young Katerina Klova is aboard a passenger ship heading towards the tumult of pre-war Europe. Her mother lies below deck, sedated and strapped down as she retreats into a hallucinogenic hell, leaving her daughter to face the uncertainties of the ship alone. In Patric’s hands, this ship feels like a liminal space devoid of the trappings of reality that are anchored by dry land, in which many strange and unearthly things happen. The story unfolds as a series of episodes that seem shallowly innocuous but which carry malevolent undertones, over which the threat of impending war hangs like fog.

The result is an atmospheric book that will wrap itself around your mind, slowly filling you with a sense of foreboding that seeps in before it floods.

~

‘I am still walking the slick decks of Atlantic Black, looking for a way out for both myself and Katerina. She is a singular character such a perfect and excruciating balance of acting and being acted upon. A brilliant and devastating novel that will not let me go.’ ~ Myfanwy Jones, author of Leap

‘A powerful and mesmerising voyage into darkness. Atlantic Black creates an indelible portrait of humanity sailing towards war.’ ~ Heather Rose, Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
01/11/2017
20%
OFF
RRP  $29.99 $24.25
Forest Dark

Forest Dark

 
4/5 Rating 1 Reviews

Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis.

In the wake of his parents' deaths, his divorce from a thirty-year marriage, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he begins shedding the possessions he spent a lifetime accumulating a watch here, an Old Master there and becomes elusive, distant.

Resolving to do something to commemorate his parents, he travels to Tel Aviv and checks into the Hilton.

Meanwhile, a novelist leaves her husband and children behind in Brooklyn and arrives at the same hotel, hoping that the view of the pool she used to dive into on childhood holidays will unlock her writer's block.

But when a retired professor of literature recruits her for a project involving Kafka, she is drawn into a mystery that will take her on a metaphysical journey and change her in ways she could never have imagined.

Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:

Forest Dark, the incredible new novel by Nicole Krauss, is a thoughtful study of self-realisation experienced from two different perspectives. Two Jewish Americans, one a retired lawyer and the other a writer suffering from writer’s block, make their way to the Israeli desert in search of nothing and everything. One of them emerges from the desert, forever altered, while the other seems to disappear entirely.

One could say that, through these characters, this book takes two very different looks at the same dilemma; what is one’s place in the world and in its individual histories? Kraus doesn’t so much seek to answer this in any definitive manner, preferring to allow meaning to gradually emerge through the charisma of her characters as they grapple with these questions. The result is a profoundly moving novel that offers a tantalising glimpse at one possibility: what would happen if you emptied yourself to make room for the person you were intended to be?

Krauss is a master of the kind of storytelling that captivates without resorting to plot-based gimmickry to hold a reader’s attention. This is a highly contemplative novel, and one might get lost in Krauss’ ruminations on culture, the multiverse theory, and (of all things) Kafka if they don’t pay attention - but with Krauss’ beautiful wordcraft, not paying attention is simply not an option. This was my first time picking up a Nicole Krauss novel; needless to say, it won’t be my last.

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
01/09/2017
RRP  $24.99 $23.25
Pachinko

A victorian epic transplanted to Japan, following a Korean family of immigrants through eight decades and four generations.

Shortlisted for the National Book Award

One of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2017

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl.

The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin.

But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.

Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
03/08/2017
16%
OFF
RRP  $22.99 $19.50
Ada

Kaz Cooke invites you to an audience with the amazing Ada.

She's a showgirl and a story teller with a trunk full of stories and secrets. A funny, tender novel about an extraordinary woman who made the very best of everything life threw at her.

‘It’s not every day a handsome young man appears onyour doorstep to ask if you’re a respectable woman…’

Miss Ada Delroy and her famous vaudeville troupe stormed five continents, enchanting royalty, miners and larrikins alike with her wit, illusions, and breathtaking dances.

‘I had a diamond pendant near as big as an emu egg off the Maharajah of What's-His-Name. They named a racehorse after me, and a pigeon and a potato soup on an Orient steamship.'

Under the costume made from 100 yards of billowing silk was a woman who couldn’t help being both fabulous and disreputable. Down on her luck in a rented room in Melbourne, morphia cocktail in hand, Ada receives a visitor. Is she ready to share her secrets?

Inspired by photos of real 1890s vaudevillians, Kaz Cooke brings to life a forgotten world of cunning clairvoyants and trained cockatoos; of fierce loyalties and mixed lollies; the glamour of the stage and the muck of the road. Funny, inventive and lovingly researched, Ada isthe story of an extraordinary woman in the toughest of times, with the courage to make herself the star.

‘I’ll tell you what I loved about being a theatrical. You’re a custodian of magic, a purveyor of glamour, a repository of mystery. You’re someone.’

'Ada is absolutely compelling, complex and real! This Lady Thesp leaps off the page and stage with a brilliant turn of phrase and a fascinating life. Laugh out loud - and heartbreaking.' - Gina Riley

A former reporter and cartoonist, Kaz Cooke is the author of the bestselling books Up The Duff, Kidwrangling, Girl Stuff, Girl Stuff 8–12, Women’s Stuff, and the children's picture books Wanda Linda Goes Berserk and The Terrible Underpants, which is not entirely autobiographical.

This novel grew out of her research and exhibition during a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria, 2013-2015.

Format:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
30/10/2017
19%
OFF
RRP  $32.99 $26.75

 

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Most Underrated Fiction Bestseller

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