Goldbloom’s debut novel selected for the NEA Big Read Program


Hot on the heels of having her second novel, Gwen, shortlisted for the Most Underrated Book Award, Goldie Goldbloom’s The Paperbark Shoe is one of six new books selected for the Big Read program by the USA’s National Endowment for the Arts.

The NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery by showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles which reflect many different voices and perspectives. Since 2006, more than 4.8 million Americans have attended NEA Big Read events and the program is a who’s who of the current literary world.

Author Goldie Goldbloom said she was in complete shock. ‘It’s a massive honour and one that was entirely unexpected,’ said Goldbloom. ‘I thought the very lovely head of the NEA was visiting me because she wanted to see my garden.’

The Paperbark Shoe tells the story of two Italian POWs who are sent to a small farm in Western Australia’s wheat belt and forced to live alongside Toad, a farmer who secretly likes to wear corsets, and Gin, his downtrodden and slightly unhinged albino wife. Upon its release the book was described as a masterpiece of characterisation and as one of the most original Australian novels.

In a statement on their website, NEA Director of Literature Amy Stolls said they were always looking to expand the NEA Big Read library with a range of new genres, perspectives and experiences. She said, ‘Communities can choose to explore, for example, the story behind Moby-Dick with In the Heart of the Sea or get immersed in rural Australia and World War II history with The Paperbark Shoe … I look forward to seeing how communities embrace the new books and find ways to highlight and explore them together.’

Taking place all over the USA, the program supports some 75 community reading programs. The other books on this year’s list are: Advice from the Lights by Stephanie Burt, Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, Hustle by David Tomas Martinez, In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

The NEA will host a webinar on 14 November 2018 about the six new titles. More information about the program is available on the Big Read website.

The Most Underrated Book Award announcement will take place during the Small Press Network’s Independent Publishing Conference at the Wheeler Centre on Thursday 22 November. Tickets can be booked here.

The Paperbark Shoe is available in all good bookstores and online.


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