General Fiction is the biggest category for the AWW challenge, accounting for 40% of all reviews submitted during 2016. The total number of reviews of books written for adults was 558; there were of 250 titles by 202 individual authors. You can find the complete list of titles and links to reviews here.
As I trawled through this list, I was surprised to see how many titles attracted only one review – 99 books. Of these, the majority were published prior to 2016, with back lists of popular authors featuring prominently. However, 30 were published during 2016. Several of these were self-published or didn’t identify a recognised publisher, but the majority (20) were from big or well-respected smaller publishers. Among them was my own favourite read for 2016, Nike Sulway’s Dying in the First Person, and several other books ranked by participants as 4-star and above, or among their Top 10 reads for the year.
The titles released in 2016 which received only one review each in this category (i.e. Adult General Fiction; more reviews may have been added under different categories):
- Liz Byrski, The Woman Next Door (PanMac) – given 5 stars on Goodreads by Brenda
- Michelle Cahill, Letter to Pessoa and Other Short Fictions (Giramondo), reviewed by Jonathan Shaw
- Georgina Clark, The Regulars (S&S), reviewed by Sam at Sam Still Reading
- Hebe de Souza, Black British (Ventura Press), reviewed by Carol at Reading, Writing and Riesling
- Christine Dibley, To the Sea (PanMac), reviewed by Debbish
- Jane Jago, The Wrong Hand (Penguin), reviewed by Bernadette at Fairdinkum Crime
- Debra Jopson, Oliver of the Levant (Penguin), reviewed by Michelle McLaren at Newtown Review of Books
- Julie Koh, Portable Curiosities (UQP), reviewed by Julia Tulloh
- Lexi Landsman, The Ties That Bind (Penguin), reviewed at readroundoz
- Suzanne Leal, The Teacher’s Secret (A&U), reviewed by Debbish
- Kathryn Ledson, Grand Slam (Penguin), reviewed by Carol
- Micheline Lee, The Healing Party (Black Inc), reviewed by Anna
- Maria Lewis, Who’s Afraid? (Hachette), reviewed by Carol
- Lynette Lounsbury, We Ate the Road Like Vultures (Inkerman & Blunt), given 4.5 stars by Jo @BookLoverBookreviews
- Robyn Mundy, Wildlight (PanMac: Picador), given 4 stars by Carolyn on Goodreads
- Rashida Murphy, The Historian’s Daughter (UWAP), reviewed by Emily Paull
- Heather Rose, The Museum of Modern Love (A&U), given 4.5 stars by Jo and rated in her Top 10 for 2016
- Gretchen Shirm, Where the Light Falls (A&U), given 4 stars on Goodreads by Carolyn, and
- Nike Sulway, Dying in the First Person (Transit Lounge), reviewed by me.
This got me wondering: why have these books only attracted one review? How many advanced reader copies were requested or sent to participants? Were the covers a turn-off? Did the cover blurb not appeal? Did people receive and read the books, but not review them for some reason? Perhaps they came out too late in the year, when the reviewing tends to slow down? In my case, I did receive a copy of Nike Sulway’s Dying in the First Person, but even if I hadn’t, I would’ve searched for it, having already read and enjoyed her James Tiptree award-winning speculative fiction novel, Rupetta. Was I the only participant for the challenge who received a review copy?
Maybe you can help satisfy my curiosity. Have you read of the books any on the above list?
It also made me wonder which general fiction books by Australian women were published in 2016 but attracted no reviews at all. If you know of any books published in 2016 by mainstream and reputable publishers that haven’t yet been reviewed for the challenge, do let us know!
Now to the books that did get participants’ attention.
Of the books that attracted four or more reviews, 21 were published in 2016. Some of these will overlap with other categories, including books by Meredith Appleyard and Rachael Johns which I mentioned in the romance roundup earlier this week. The others are:
- Amanda Ortlepp’s Running Against the Tide (13 reviews)*
- Sara Foster’s All that is Lost Between Us (12)
- Anna Romer’s Beyond the Orchard (12)
- Jane Harper’s The Dry (11)
- Jaye Ford’s Darkest Place (11)
- Jenn McLeod’s The Other Side of the Season (9)
- Ann Turner’s Out of Ice (9)
- Elizabeth Harrower’s A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories (8)
- Melina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil (8)
- J M Peace’s The Twisted Knot (8)
- Anita Heiss’s Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms (6)
- Inga Simpson’s Where the Trees Were (6)
- Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep (5)
- L A Larkin’s Devour (5)
- Olga Lorenzo’s The Light on the Water (5)
- Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident (4)
- Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty (4)
- Nicole Trope’s Blame (4)
- Jennifer Scoullar’s Journey’s End (4), and
- Dominique Wilson’s That Devil’s Madness (4).
When I examined the above list, I realised I’ve read works by 12 of these 20 authors, including six of the books mentioned. I also have another on my wish list. All bar one of the books I’ve read from this list was sent to me for review by the publisher. This raises the question about popularity. Were these ‘most popular’ books those which were best promoted by publishers? Or were reviewers simply more keen to read and review them, perhaps because of the author’s track record or their familiarity with their earlier work? Or perhaps the books were sent, but participants did not find them to their taste and therefore didn’t post a review? Any ideas?
Getting back to our stats.
When we include books published prior to 2016, the most popular author for 2016 was, not surprisingly, Charlotte Wood, with a total of 18 reviews of her work. Her stunning Stella Prize-winning 2015 release, The Natural Way of Things, attracted 14 reviews, and several of her back list were also reviewed: Animal People (2), The Children (1) and The Submerged Cathedral (1). (I must get around to reading The Submerged Cathedral: I have it on good authority, it’s a great book.)
Were any of the books mentioned here your favourite read for 2016? Let us know!
What books should we be looking out for this month? Jane Sullivan included two in her recent article for the Sydney Morning Herald/Age:
- Blueberry by Glenna Thomson (PRH) – debut fiction and
- Trapeze Act by Libby Angel (Text) – debut fiction.
To this we can now add a few other new releases (care of our new form):
- Now You’re Mine by Avril Tremayne (Penguin Random House)
- Things We Cannot See by Dianne Maguire (HarperCollins Impulse)
- In the Deep End by Penelope Janu (Harlequin MIRA)
- The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale (Harlequin MIRA)
- Gifts For Our Time (#4 Rivenshaw series) by Anna Jacobs (Hodder & Stoughton, UK)
- Wenna by Virginia Taylor (Kensington Books)
- A Place to Belong by Claire Boston (self-published through Bantilly Publishing)
- Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold and Awaken: Sleeping Beauty Retold by Demelza Carlton (Lost Plot Press)
- Random Meeting by Maggie Mundy (Evernight Press)
If you have a book coming out this year, please let us know! (You can fill out the form in this post.)
As of next month, a new recruit will be co-writing the General Fiction roundups, Katt from Coffee2Words. Unless someone else puts up their hand to take over from me, Lynxie and I will be doing alternative months. If you’re interested in sharing this role with Lynxie, please let us know via our contact page. Happy reading!