Brooklyn Heights
Miral al Tahawy
Faber, A$27.99

The author is a highly respected Egyptian writer, now resident in the US. Brooklyn Heights is her first novel published in English. It deals with the experience of migration. Hend has left her unhappy marriage and moved to New York with her young son. She is a teacher with dreams of being a writer. Instead, she finds herself aimless, caught in memories of the past. She is psychically adrift, her spirit trailing her.


Good Morning, Mr Sarra
Chris Sarra
UQP, $34.95

Chris Sarra came from an Italian-Aboriginal family in Bundaberg, Queensland. His parents did a good job, installing a sense of pride and a determination to do good. Sarra trained as a teacher, initially of PE, and was posted around the state. He confronted racism when he saw it, and confounded the low expectations that then were endemic for indigenous people. Inspirational reading.

The Cutting Season
Attica Locke
Serpent's Tail, $27.99

Locke's first novel was nominated for numerous awards, from the Orange to the Edgar. The Cutting Season is likely to fare similarly. Here, crime content shades into social critique. At Belle Vie, a southern plantation, Caren works as the manager. She is descended from slaves, sharing Belle Vie's history with the descendants of the white owners. When a fieldworker is killed, an investigation into past and present misdeeds ensues.


The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
This was the only novel that di Lampedusa wrote, and it broadly chronicles the story of his own family of the Sicilian nobility, which makes its way through the transition of the Italian reunification of the 1860s. It is a sad and beautiful work, with acute observations on the ephemeral nature of politics and seemingly great causes.
The young revolutionary nephew of the family, who joins the army of Garibaldi, tells his uncle: ''If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.'' I first read the work as a university student and it spoke to me of a long view of life beyond protests and barricades. For me, it is still one of the great conversions of a novel to the screen.
Douglas Gautier is chief executive and artistic director of the Adelaide Festival Centre.