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What's the Best Book Based in Brisbane?

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by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published January 10th 2017
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(by StockSnap / Public Domain)

Even before it was named Brisbane in 1825, Queensland's capital city has been the setting for countless stories as storytellers have delved into our ancient past when the area was known as Mian-jin, dug up our colonial secrets and peered into the unknown future.

Of the many tales, from fantasy and fable, history and humour, sci-fi and suspense, what's your favourite book featuring Brisbane? It could be based on our colourful characters, including Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Charles Kingsford Smith or Thea Astley, the environment and wild weather, or a nostalgic sensation felt when reading about a special spot within the city, viewed from a new perspective.

Is one of these Brisbane-based books your favourite?

The Slow Natives by Thea Astley. Winning the Miles Franklin Award in 1965, The Slow Natives explores the challenges, often self-inflicted, we undergo as we grapple with spiritual identity. The characters, including nuns, a priest, and a husband and wife with their teenage son, are memorable for their flaws, painfully detailed with intimate backstories. As they develop, there's a sense that Brisbane was developing with them, rapidly growing from a large country town into the complex, modern city we now know and still love.

books brisbane,books set brisbane,books based brisbane,best books brisbane,novels brisbane,classic books brisbane,classic novels brisbane,forgotten garden,Thea Astley,David Malouf
(by Unsplash / Public Domain)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Beginning in Latrobe Terrace, Nell, a girl abandoned on a voyage from Cornwall to Brisbane, grows up in the city. Decades later, she returns to Cornwall, searching for answers from the Authoress. Nell's granddaughter, curious to visit her inheritance, the same manor house explored by Nell, finds fairytales in a forgotten garden.

Cop This! by Chris Nyst. After a bomb explodes in Fortitude Valley, killing 11 people, a scapegoat, Johnny Arnold, is framed as the bomber. Inspired by the frightening tales of real-life corruption in the police force and parliament, Johnny's lawyers begin a fight to expose the treacherous truth, risking more than their retainers to battle sinister political forces. For fans of courtroom dramas in the style of John Grisham, eager for a Brisbane-based legal thriller.

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Pedalling through paragraphs (by Army Medicine / BY 2.0)

Zigzag Street by Nick Earls. Over 6 weeks in Brisbane, Richard Derrington is suddenly single. Perhaps not suddenly – Anna left him 6 months ago. But in Red Hill, the 28-year-old stumbles through a series of career, sporting and DIY disasters, perhaps finding love, or at least hoping to. Aren't we all?

12 Edmondstone Street by David Malouf. The subtle sensations that form our memories, myths and dreams of Brisbane – how to put this feeling into words? Malouf paints this picture with details to captivate visitors and evoke nostalgia in locals. He brings his childhood home to life, recalling creaky timber floors, tin roofs and vast verandahs that are slowly disappearing, replaced by apartment towers, duplexes and McMansions.

What's been your favourite page-turner in Brisbane? Please let us know with a comment.

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Vigil by Angela Slatter (2016) Paranormal mystery set in BrisVegas - really liked this book and it is the first in a proposed trilogy so two more to look forward to. Highly recommended!
by annburns (score: 1|14) 1833 days ago
Zigzag Street!!
by roseb (score: 1|17) 899 days ago
The Mayne Inheritance is also a fascinating read about very early Brisbane, and is a true story!
Barry, I have loved this exercise. Thankyou
by May (score: 2|842) 1829 days ago
Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson. Evocative and haunting.
by carolyn (score: 0|5) 1835 days ago
This Barren Land My Bed of Roses is the lived experience of an inocent woman condemned, written both behind bars and as part of a Master's thesis. Explores the nature of self and other, and the effects of abusive incarceration during the Jo Bjelke-Petersen days.
by roseb (score: 1|17) 932 days ago
The River House by Jacinta Cunnington. Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast in the 50s - lots of days on the beach, and white gloves for the city
by searl (score: 1|64) 1836 days ago
Just One Wish Rachel Johns. Not entirely Brisbane setting but well worth it.
by roseb (score: 1|17) 762 days ago
The Annie Bryce Mystery series by Pat Noad.
by k.bul (score: 0|9) 1836 days ago
The Infernal by Kim Wilkins, amazing local author. Be prepared to have a few nightmares, ut totallu un-put-downable.
by lusmi (score: 1|30) 1836 days ago
Kylie Kaden's ' Missing You' and Cass Moriarty's ' The Promise Seed' are both great reads.
by Michelle Beesley (score: 0|4) 1836 days ago
Pig City - Music, Politics, Police, and the birth of 4ZZZ by Andrew Stafford.
by julie (score: 0|6) 1836 days ago
As the author I am biased, but: "Portrait of a bridge. Ephemeral silhouettes of Brisbane's Victoria bridge" [and also a beautiful book on old buildings in Brisbane (with illustrations), that I have misplaced (most probably my daughter threw it away while "cleaning up" my room, as it looked a bit old - orange cover...].
by d_gom (score: 0|4) 9 days ago
With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
Over The Top With Jim by Hugh Lunn
World of Chickens and also 48 Shades Of Brown both by Nick Earls
Praise and also Last Drinks by Andrew McGahan
by 4030j (score: 0|4) 13 days ago
Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson. Read it 10 years ago and haunts me still.
by carolyn (score: 0|5) 1835 days ago
Matthew Condon’s "Three Crooked Kings" trilogy of the Fitzgerald era.
by gretc (score: 1|22) 1836 days ago
ZigZag Street
by j.bow (score: 0|2) 1836 days ago
don't forget "Praise" by Andrew McGahan! He also wrote a great book called "Last Drinks" which is based around the Fitzgerald Inquiry time.
by spain (score: 0|2) 1837 days ago

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