The 25 best Australian books of 2021: Helen Garner, Alice Pung, Tony Birch and more

Titles featured in Guardian Australia’s best books of 2021 list. Composite: Scribe/PR/Allen and Unwin

Titles featured in Guardian Australia’s best books of 2021 list. Composite: Scribe/PR/Allen and Unwin

Experimental elegies, portraits of resilience and political manifestos: 25 of the best reads of the year as picked by Guardian Australia critics and staff

Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser

Allen and Unwin

I keep thinking about the formal gambit on which Scary Monsters is built: it is a book with two faces. Quite literally: it has two covers, two sets of end pages, and it forces the reader at the outset to choose where they begin. It’s a device more complex and consequential than it first seems, because there’s only one opportunity to read one section of the novel unencumbered by the other, to read innocently. And because the sections could each, in theory, stand alone, and because the ties between them are allusive and never overt, the connections and conclusions a reader might draw are up for grabs.

It’s an inventive and playful book, funny and heartbreaking, and beautifully accomplished. – Fiona Wright

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