Welcome to this, our third annual Summer Reading issue, in which we ask eight Australian novelists who’ve had a hit in the past 12 months to pen a piece about the year just gone. But what to say about a year like 2020, in which so many of us did so little – and spent so much of our psychic energy in survival mode? So we adapted the brief, telling the writers that if they preferred they could write about an imaginary year – which, after all, plays to their natural strengths as storytellers.

As you will see, they responded in a variety of ways – some funny, others moving, all thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

We’ve augmented their stories with reflections by Good Weekend staff writers on the places in Australia that hold special resonance for them, sparked by the (joyful) realisation that we’ll all be holidaying here this summer.

This being our last issue for 2020. Have a wonderful festive season and summer break – and we’ll see you again on January 23.

– Katrina Strickland, Good Weekend Editor

Craig Silvey: ‘If writing leaves me hollowed out, it’s readers who fill me back up’

Attendees at literary festivals can be insightful, funny, respectful – then there are the rest.

"There is nothing that thrills me more than earning the honour of a reader’s time."

“There is nothing that thrills me more than earning the honour of a reader’s time.”Credit:Illustration by Simon Letch

Meg Mason: ‘The only thing different that summer, me and him and us finding ways to be away from everyone’

When the guy from your after-school job agrees to spend New Year’s at your family beach house, sunburn, salty hair and pash rash are just the beginning.

"My cousin sat up, kicked her doona off, and said, even if I wasn’t planning to dump him, it was weird I’d been allowed to bring him in the first place."

“My cousin sat up, kicked her doona off, and said, even if I wasn’t planning to dump him, it was weird I’d been allowed to bring him in the first place.”Credit:Illustration by Simon Letch

Pip Williams: ‘I wonder if absence is necessary. I wish there was another way’

How does a self-confessed helicopter parent give her young adult son some space? By flying the nest herself.

"But she didn’t teach him to make bread, and now she imagines his struggles with friendships and love and identity, and all the questions he might have asked if she were there."

“But she didn’t teach him to make bread, and now she imagines his struggles with friendships and love and identity, and all the questions he might have asked if she were there.”Credit:Illustration by Simon Letch



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