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New Year Update

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Bonfire Books readers and friends. We hope you had a chance for some good rest over the Summer/Winter holidays. Here in south-eastern Australia, we’ve had a relatively mild summer so far, which suits us just fine.

The Fanning the Flames newsletter with our reviews, essays and art will now appear quarterly. Announcements and updates on new releases will appear separately as they arise. You can expect a similar number of emails from us throughout the year, but not necessarily on the monthly pattern. The first quarterly newsletter will appear in the middle of March.

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The end of 2023 got away from us what with newborns, new jobs and new responsibilities but we are still alive and kicking and have an exciting list of titles for 2024.

Pinter’s Son Jim: An Australian Drama is Henry Lawson’s only completed play. While the play has been performed a handful of times and has been included in Lawson’s complete works, this marks the first time it will be published as a stand-alone work, more than 100 years after its completion. A love story, detective story, slapstick comedy and tragedy rolled into one, Pinter’s Son Jim features some of the best-loved recurring characters from Lawson’s short stories, most notably the irrepressible Mitchell. Featuring a new introduction, explanatory footnotes, and the short story the play grew from, “The Hero of Redclay”, this edition shows a lesser-known, yet still vital, side of Lawson’s hymning of the men and women of country Australia. Release Date: ANZAC Day 2024 (April 25)

Cover image: detail from “Hill End Fantasy” by Ryan Daffurn

The Librarian of Cappadocia by Dean Kalimniou, illustrated by Talia Lomman. A middle-grade children’s book, The Librarian of Cappadocia is the charming tale of a grumpy old monk in search of the wisdom of the ages in the library he tends deep in the caves of Cappadocia, where he finds help from the most unexpected and humble of sources. Steeped in the Orthodox Christian tradition and featuring giants, jewel-encrusted books, a mysterious shepherd boy, and fully illustrated with original artwork by Talia Lomman, this book will delight young and old alike. Release date: May 5

Gringai of Port Stephens: Recollections of William Scott. An important record of pre-and post-settlement Aboriginal life in the Port Stephens region of northern New South Wales, Gringai of Port Stephens was written by the son of a pioneering family who grew up alongside the original inhabitants and was one of two outsiders to learn their language, the other being his sister. Covering all aspects of Gringai life, and including William Scott’s original English/Gringai glossary, this is, among other things, a unique childhood memoir, a priceless historical account and a clear-eyed lament for a lost era. Release date: TBC (June/July)

“Boorel Port Stephens” attributed to Robert Hoddle circa. 1824-1836, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Whales

Ryan Daffurn art book. This year we will publish a book of paintings by one of Australia’s most promising young classically-minded artists, Ryan Daffurn. Designed to showcase Ryan’s career to date, the book will feature completed paintings, essays, photographs of his practice and works-in-progress and an artist’s statement. Ryan recently won the prestigious Lethbridge Small Scale Art prize (worth $20,000) and is represented by Maunsell Wickes Gallery, Sydney and Lethbridge Gallery, Brisbane. Release Date: TBC (late 2024)

More titles to come. Stay tuned and see you in March!

(Have an idea for a classic reprint? Drop us a line at

Available now:

Caleb Caudell’s debut collection of short fiction, Novelty and Other Stories. Caudell was shortlisted in the debut category of the Indiana Author Awards 2022 for his novel The Neighbor and Novelty builds on the vision of that work. Among the sixteen stories are slices of Midwestern realism, deeply humorous parables, Caudell’s signature absurdism and a man who can’t watch television. Not won’t, but can’t. Warmer than Houellebecq, kookier than Kafka, Novelty is a collection impossible to forget.

(Hello multi-national burger behemoths, please sue us!)

The book has received some glowing praise on Amazon.

“Tom” writes,

“This collection of stories is a good progression from Caleb’s (fantastic) debut novel. Thoughtful, moody, lean in the muscle and strong in the bones. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to consider Caudell one of the preeminent Midwestern Gothic writers.”

“Kent Thomas” writes,

I’ve never read a short story like ‘As I Hang Drying’. It’s brilliant. ‘Antechinus’ is sad, funny, and poignant, and it lingered with me for days after reading it.

“not required” writes,

If I wrote this collection I’d be an absolute loser about it and carry it around with me everywhere and constantly brag about it.


Bonfire seems great for having put this out, can’t fathom a big 5 doing anything like this.


Caleb was interviewed at length over at LitReactor. Check it out here. Everything Caleb has to say is worthwhile, but I was most interested in his thoughts on the art of realism in the short story.

Realism is tricky. Most days, most lives, even, are fairly plotless. Or if they do exhibit story structures, they’re unremarkable. The power is in the depiction, the literary tools you use to reconstruct what would otherwise be drab material. The curious thing about realism is that it can easily ossify into a style which is derivative of certain other writers known for their brand of realism. At that point, you’re not even accurately representing what’s happening around you anymore, you’re not honestly drawing on your own experience, your thoughts, imagination and such, because this idea of what sounds realistic precedes the creative act and warps it, making the work more mannered and contrived. For me, it was easy to get around this issue with the short story form, because plausibility, verisimilitude, were secondary to creating a striking effect with broad implications. And yet, when you set aside the question of exactitude, sometimes you touch on something very much true to life, that calls attention to real experiences.

Novelty and Other Stories is available for Australian readers at the Bonfire website, through Amazon or can be ordered through your local brick-and-mortar bookshop.

Albany Unravelled by Steffan Silcox and Douglas R.G. Sellick.

Cover image: Scrimshaw by Gary Tonkin

Albany Unravelled, is a new and fascinating account of the foundation and history of the King George Sound/Albany region of Western Australia, written in honour of its upcoming Bicentenary in 2026. With so much “broad brush” history being bandied about these days it is wonderful to see a work which paints in miniature, as it were, and adheres strictly to verifiable fact to correct both sensationalist and agenda-driven histories. It would be wrong to call Albany Unravelled merely a local history. Just as each of us lives in a village made up of the inhabitants of our daily lives, regardless of where we live, all history is in some sense local history. In particular the early history of Australian colonisation is by necessity intimate, because the decisions of a relatively small number of people had enormous influence on the nation we were to become. As one of the earliest and most isolated settlements in Australia, Albany’s story is both representative and unique.

Albany Unravelled is available for Australian readers at the Bonfire website, through Amazon or can be ordered through your local brick-and-mortar bookshop.

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