The best Australian novels that will help you see nature and climate in a new way

Jane Rawson Author Of From the Wreck
By Jane Rawson

The Books I Picked & Why

Dyschronia

By Jennifer Mills

Dyschronia

Why this book?

Dyschronia is strange, complicated, overwhelming, frightening, and occasionally enervating – just like climate change. Jen Mills tells the story of a young woman in a small, dying town who can’t stop seeing horrible futures; or, perhaps, the story of a young woman who compulsively lies. You won’t forget the compelling and sickening scene of a town waking up to find the ocean has disappeared. This one is worth wrapping your brain around.


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The Animals in That Country

By Laura Jean McKay

The Animals in That Country

Why this book?

The Animals in That Country has won numerous awards in Australia and was a breakout success in 2020. It’s a completely wild novel about a ‘zoo flu’ plague whose victims can suddenly ‘hear’ everything the animals around them say. The bad news is, the animals don’t like us much. The Animals is based on years of scientific enquiry into how animals think, feel, and communicate, and it’s a riveting, disturbing and hilarious read. If you’ve ever wanted to get inside the head of a kangaroo, now’s your chance.


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Flames

By Robbie Arnott

Flames

Why this book?

A riotous traipse across the island of Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, Flames follows a young woman whose brother is obsessed with ensuring that when she dies, she won’t return as a natural force the way her mother and grandmother did. Flames is narrated by creatures human and non, with the plot propelled along through stories told by a water rat and a fire, among others. Arnott’s intimate knowledge of the landscapes of his home island comes alive on the page – when you’ve finished Flames, try the brilliant nature parable of The Rain Heron, his latest book.


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Wolfe Island

By Lucy Treloar

Wolfe Island

Why this book?

Lucy is an Australian writer but her second novel, Wolfe Island, is set in the US in a time that might be the very recent past or the very near future. Kitty Hawke and her large, loyal dog are the last inhabitants of a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay; Kitty values her solitude, but when her estranged family is targeted by the US government, she has to decide whether to stand up for what she believes in. Most climate change novels tend toward future dystopias – Wolfe Island is special because it is a firmly realist novel that looks more closely at our current world and reveals all the ways the dystopia is here and now.


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Echolalia

By Briohny Doyle

Echolalia

Why this book?

Doyle’s first novel, The Island Will Sink, was a wild ride into a technology-obsessed, nature-depleted future society. Echolalia is situated firmly in present-day, suburban Australia and unlike most climate change novels it recognises that environmental crisis is part of a deeper web: the novel looks at how class, money, and white dispossession of Australia’s first nations people all complicate the way we deal with heat, drought and a frightening future. A compelling portrait of a woman falling to pieces.


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