The New Wilderness
By Diane Cook (Oneworld, $29.99)
The climate crisis has rendered most of the Earth uninhabitable. All that's left is The City, where the humans are poisoned by toxic air, and The Wilderness State, where the wildlife lives and humans are banned. Bea's daughter, Agnes, is suffering, so she volunteers them to join a radical experiment in The Wilderness State that will test whether humans can live among nature without destroying it.
By Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin, $32.99)
Late at night, a teenage boy and an old man appear at opposite ends of a bridge, intending to jump. They spot each other and set the course for a relationship that will change both of their lives. Eleven years after releasing the beloved Jasper Jones, Silvey returns with this tender story that explores the nuances of family and self.
By Aminatou Show and Ann Friedman (Hachette, $32.99)
From the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, this book feels like an embrace, an all-consuming bear-hug from a close mate. Plumbing the depths of what it takes to make and sustain long-lasting platonic bonds, it will have you rethinking your relationships and wanting to call your girlfriends. If you've missed your pals this year, read this.
By Malcolm Knox (Allen & Unwin, $32.99)
A crumbling family, a deteriorating clifftop house and a desperate attempt to save a coastal town from gentrification are at the heart of this Aussie novel. Gordon Grimes is struggling to maintain his relationship, his parenting. and the dark secrets of his past spent on the shores of Bluebird beach, where he has returned. Best read at the beach, obviously.
City of Spies
By Mara Timon (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)
In 1943, British Special Operations Executive agent Elisabeth de Morney escapes to Lisbon from Nazi-occupied France. There, she is ordered to uncover a state enemy by infiltrating high society, posing as a wealthy French widow. But as she draws closer to people, it becomes more difficult to tell allies from adversaries and fact from fiction.
By Jane Harper (Pan Macmillan, $32.99)
Let the tide of this literary masterpiece pull you out to sea. Keiran Elliot returns to his small coastal home town to face his past, and in true Harper style (read: rural noir), Australia's rugged coastline plays a starring role, along with a washed-up body, a missing girl and secrets aplenty. Go on, dip your toes in—you know you want to.
Where The Fruit Falls
By Karen Wyld (UWA, $27.99)
This is the story of four generations of Indigenous women, told through Brigid and then continued by her twin daughters. The women are all facing impacts of colonisation and intergenerational trauma in the search for self-acceptance, justice and a connection to Country. Wyld has crafted an affecting testament to the strength of First Nations women.
To My Country
By Ben Lawson with illustrations by Bruce Whatley (Allen & Unwin, $29.99, proceeds will be donated to The Koala Hospital); out January 10
Dedicated to our firefighters, Ben Lawson's poem is at once a love letter to his country, a reflection on the bushfires that brought us to our knees and a rallying cry for the future. Like a country ballad playing on the jukebox, it's loud with nostalgia and heavy with heart.
The Vanishing Half
By Brit Bennett (Hachette, $32.99)
Identical twins Stella and Desiree live in a town where everyone is the descendent of one mixed-race, light-skinned man. In 1954, when they are 16, they decide to run away. Over the course of 20 years, we see one twin build a life as a white woman in California and the other return to their home town. Bennett explores the repercussions of trying to escape the past.
By Ewa Ramsey (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)
Caitlin is a twentysomething with severe death anxiety that she deals with by overworking, overdrinking and attending the death-anxiety support group The Morbids. Ramsey captures the experience of mental illness in a way that is bracingly funny and filled with warmth and understanding.