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Chris Hammer: My favourite Ausssie read

As an Australian book subscription box, we love nothing more than championing local, homegrown talent, so we were thrilled to launch an Australian Reads genre (meaning our subscribers have a whopping ten to choose from!).

And we also love giving fans of our book box the chance to get to know the authors they're reading a bit better. This month, we spoke to Australia Reads ambassador, Chris Hammer - author of Treasure and Dirt - to find out more about his favourite Aussie read.

A great Aussie read? Peter Temple. He’s my favourite Australian crime fiction author and I’m not alone. Before his death in 2018, Peter had won the Ned Kelly Award for best Australian crime novel four times, he was the first Australian to win the prestigious Gold Dagger from the UK Crime Writers Association, and his final book, Truth,was awarded Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin. So the bloke could write.

First and foremost, I love Peter’s use of language. He is one of the great stylists. His prose is concise, pared right back, yet so evocative. He captures the essence of a place with a few well-chosen words, whether that place is the bush or the back alleys of Fitzroy.

His dialogue is sparse but remarkably effective. So much is said, using so few words. He is one of those rare writers who seem to be able to convey more with what is not said, rather than with what is.

He manages to capture the very essence of Australians, revelling in the use of the vernacular. Which is intriguing, given that he was born and raised in South Africa, and only migrated to Australia in his thirties. In particular, his books capture Melbourne, with its love for Australian Rules, its pub culture and its laconic attitudes.

There are serious moments, confronting moments,  but these are leavened with a beautifully understated sense of humour, leaving it to the reader to pick up on the inherent ironies and absurdities, whether in speech or in situation. 

His Jack Irish books, so adroitly adapted for television, are classic crime thrillers, carried by the eponymous investigator, a flawed and damaged hero is there was ever one.

But it’s Peter’s two final books, The Broken Shore and Truth, that transcend commonplace crime fiction. These are morality tales, observations how the best intentions can be warped and shifted.

My advice? Read them all. Start with the Jack Irish books, but whatever you do, don’t miss The Broken Shore and Truth. They are just outstanding.

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