BookMark is now a regular column with an emphasis on Tasmanian publications and literary events.

This first BookMark column begins with a request for reader participation. The assignment is to nominate fiction or non-fiction books that you think best capture Tasmania (other than the phonebook). I offer a selection of possibles to get the thought processes going and look forward to readers’ alternative suggestions.

Nan Chauncy’s children’s books, such as They Found a Cave, World’s End Was Home and Tiger in the Bush, published between 1947 and 1969, celebrate the Tasmanian landscape and its resourceful inhabitants.

Robert Hughes described Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of His Natural Life (1870) as “a vivid, trashy Grand Guignol” of convict history but how could it be anything other than a horror story? A visit to Port Arthur’s Separate Prison or the Saltwater River punishment cells still freezes the blood.

Richard Flanagan goes even deeper into the convict-era darkness with Gould’s Book of Fish (2001) while his first novel, Death of a River Guide (1994), heads into the dense physical terrain of the state’s West Coast and the Franklin River.

Communism, Catholicism and Labor politics collide on the Hobart waterfront of the 1950s in Amanda Lohrey’s novel The Morality of Gentlemen (1984).

Christopher Koch follows a pair of Tasmanian cousins from a dusty second-hand shop in Hobart to the high life in Sydney in The Doubleman (1985), beautifully evoking an old quarter of Hobart in the process.

John Dale, in his hybrid non-fiction book Wild Life (2004), undertakes a quest to solve the mystery of his grandfather’s violent death in Launceston in 1942, stepping into real and imagined happenings at Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo and his grandfather’s recruitment of Tasmanian film star Errol Flynn for a plan to save the thylacine from extinction.

In One Crowded Hour  (1987) Tim Bowden chronicles the life of a restless Tasmanian soul, combat cameraman Neil Davis, from his youth at Nala, near Oatlands, to his death filming a minor coup in Bangkok in 1985.

Historian James Boyce’s Van Diemen’s Land, the collected poems of Gwen Harwood, David Owen’s Pufferfish crime series ... offer your nominations in the comments section below or send a list of up to four Tasmanian favourites, with a sentence or two to explain each of your choices, to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by February 12 and share the joy around.

BookMark these in your diary:

• Wednesday, February 1: Launch of Island Magazine 127 and the opportunity to meet Island’s new editor, Dale Campisi, 5.30-7.30pm, Lark Distillery, 14 Davey St, Hobart. More, HERE

• Tasmania Over Five Generations: Return to Van Diemen’s Land? will be launched in Launceston on the 3rd February by Tim Thorne at Petrarch’s Bookshop, 89 Brisbane Street, at 6 pm; and in Hobart on the 4th February by Andrew Wilkie at the Hobart Bookshop 22 Salamanca Square, at 4 pm. All are welcome. If attending the Launceston launch, RSVP by phone: (03) 6331 8088, or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
More, HERE

NB: Both events - and many others - are listed in TT’s What’s On section, HERE


• Here’s a chance to win Random House audio-books of Tasmanian author Lian Tanner’s Museum of Thieves (set of six CDs) and City of Lies (set of five CDs) read by Claudia Black. There is one competition for children and one for adults, both requiring some creative work and knowledge of Tanner’s adventure series to enter. Go to for details (and an opportunity to sample the audio-books). The competition closes on Sunday, February 19. The author herself will pick the winning entries.

Do you have a new Tasmanian publication you would like reviewed or a local literary event to publicise? Email BookMark via:
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