A book touted as ‘Handmaid’s Tale for the 21st Century’ that follows the story of a group of young women being held captive in the Australian desert, has been announced as the University of Canberra Book of the Year for 2019.

The UC Book Project, now in its seventh year, provides a book to all commencing students and staff at the University with the aim to generate conversation and engagement within the community.

The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood, was the winner of the Stella Prize in 2016 and has gripped readers with its provocative exploration of contemporary misogyny.

It was chosen as the 2019 UC Book of the Year by a panel of experts including Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Nick Klomp, University of Canberra Distinguished Professor Jen Webb, University Librarian Christian West, author Craig Cormick and PhD student Ian McHugh.

Professor Jen Webb has described the book as a call for social change.

“How does anyone adapt to the impossible: to authorised misogyny, to absent rights? They don’t, of course; they simply find ways to accommodate themselves to it. In those accommodations we see the crippling of selves; the ambiguous comfort of friendship; the giving over of personal values for tiny physical ease; only fleeting gestures toward a sense of sisterhood.”

“This brutal, tender account of the reductio ad absurdum of unreflective misogyny is a galvanizing call for social change. It matters that such stories can be told, can be debated, can burrow under one’s skin,” said Professor Webb.

Professor Klomp hopes that the book with engage a wide audience with its universal themes of power, morality, judgement and friendship.

“The themes, language and flow of The Natural Way of Things are enthralling, and I have no doubt that students and staff will be glued to the story as soon as they turn the first page,” Professor Klomp said.

“The Book of the Year is a fantastic initiative that has shown to be growing in popularity each year. It builds a feeling of community and connectedness between disciplines and faculties – no matter what you choose to study, you can have a common talking point with everyone on campus.”

The Natural Way of Things was chosen from a shortlist including:

  • Locust Girl, by Merlinda Bobis
  • No More Boats, by Felicity Castagna
  • Hope Farm, by Peggy Farm
  • The Book of Dirt, by Bram Presser
  • Salt Creek, by Lucy Treloar
  • Extinctions, by Josephine Wilson
  • The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood

 

Written by Tara Corcoran

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