As the Lonely Fly

The best holiday reads for Christmas, 2017

‘Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a few days of peace and quiet and a pile of books….’  If you’re looking for the perfect gift, or a tender ‘treat yourself’ package for a few days of self-care, this list is designed as a Literate Lazy Susan for your biblio palette - or someone else’s.

first-personFor A Gorgeous Fictional Read - Richard Flanagan’s ‘First Person’ This is Tasmanian favourite Richard Flanagan’s return to fiction after his Mann Booker Prize Winner ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ in 2014. If you’ve never been treated to Flanagan’s prose you’re missing out on a delight, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint in First Person: compelling, comic and chilling.

A young writer is tasked with ghost writing the memoir of a con man, but the relationship between the two men morphs in surprising ways. It’s has the heft of a finely tuned literary work, while also being a stay-up-past-me-bed-time page-turner. It’s all the more thrilling for the allusions to Flanagan’s real-life early literary career.



lincoln-in-the-bardoFor An Audio Experience Like No Other - George Saunder’s ‘Lincoln In The Bardo’ The Mann Booker Prize for this year went to George Saunders’ Lincoln In The Bardo. A deserving win from a beautiful writer, Lincoln In The Bardo focuses on the sudden death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son, whose ghost is desperate to find a way home. It’s a funny, devastating and beautiful story, told from multiple points of view. At times, the book reads like a screenplay, as multiple character voices fight for themselves to be heard (or read).

This makes the audiobook a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, and may even be my preferred method of digesting this work. The all-star cast features Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Megan Mullally, George Saunders himself, Lena Dunham, Miranda July and Carrie Brownstein. If you’re not a regular audiobook listener, this is the perfect title to get you hooked. (And it will prep you for all of the For Pity Sake titles that are about to be released.)


For A Self-Help Lover - Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’

the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-f-ckI’m hesitant to suggest a self-help book at Christmas time. It can be a perfect opportunity to pause, reflect and do some self-work, but it can also come across as a slightly insulting Christmas gift. (Hands up if you got The Magic Art of Tidying Up in your stocking last year. What were they trying to tell you, hmmm?) Worse, some self-help books come with enough homework and ‘programs’ that you end up in a navel-gazing existential crisis that’s only worsened by having to hang with your blood relatives during the festive season.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a refreshing change. Direct, readable, and filled with common sense, this book will remind you of the things really worth worrying about, making that awkward Christmas lunch a breeze. It’s also a great way to start a new year, and will make your resolutions more achievable and focused.



For the History Nut - Sara Dowse’s ‘As The Lonely Fly’

Yes, okay, admitted bias here. As The Lonely Fly is a For Pity Sake published title. But Sara Dowse’s new master work is something to behold. One reviewer described it as ‘writing of international importance’.

The book starts and ends in 1967 just after the Six Day War. This is significant because 2017 is the 50th anniversary of that war and the centennial of the Balfour Declaration in which Britain promised a national home to the Jewish people in Palestine.  The complex political background to the formation of Israel is instantly humanised by Dowse’s deft approach to the characterisation of three remarkable Russian Jewish women – a fearless revolutionary, an American immgrant and a devoted Zionist. It will keep you turning the pages.


For the Crime Lover - Dorothy Johnston’s ‘The Swan Island Connection’ Another For Pity Sake’s author, Dorothy Johnston, released the second in her ‘sea-change mystery’ series in 2017. The Swan Island Connection expands on the tales of Senior Constable Chris Blackie and his deputy, Constable Anthea Merritt, in her darkly charming crime novels set in the idyllic Victorian coast town of Queenscliff.

Local residents are disturbed by a shocking murder, but this is far from an open and shut case. Chris and Anthea uncover a long trail of deception linked to nearby Swan Island which houses a secret military training base. This is an intriguing novel with an artfully rendered sense of place, that will keep you guessing. Although it’s the second in the series, The Swan Island Connection is easily read as a stand-alone, or in partnership with its predecessor Through a Camel’s Eye. Both would make the perfect gift for the crime fiction fan.



illuminaeFor A Fun Space Trip - Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff’s ‘Illuminae’ Series

Okay, the two books in this series weren’t released this year, but the third, concluding part is to be released in 2018, and I can’t wait. This is, strictly speaking, a young adult series, but the genius behind this blockbuster means it has reach across all ages.

The space wars story that would be at home in a blockbuster film is told through e-mails, computer logs and other documents. The internal graphic design of these books is worth the price of admission alone, and elevate the work to a beautiful experience as much as a compelling one. Buy it for the non-reading teenager in your life, and grab a copy for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

Sara Dowse on the Inspiration Behind 'As the Lonely Fly'

It was a winter’s night in Canberra, 1974.  My American mother had come from sunny LA to help look after my kids, but she found Australia’s capital less than hospitable.   It was too cold and I was too busy.  The Whitlam government had just been re-elected after Gough had called a double dissolution.  It took two weeks to learn whether they were still in office or not.

I was the bureaucratic back-up to Elizabeth Reid, Whitlam’s women’s adviser, and we had a lot of work to do.  We were working to get a child care program up, finding funding for refuges and plans were afoot for the International Women’s Year program the following year.  We had done our best to make my mother feel welcome, but she was bored in the company of women.  We were going to change the world, but my mother had been around and had her doubts.  Would Australia become a feminist paradise?  She didn’t think so.  I did arrange for her to have dinner with Moss Cass, Whitlam’s environment minister, and she was happy with that, but she remained highly sceptical.  She was an actor, and had been blacklisted in the McCarthy years.  She was exasperated with our seeming naivete.

The kids had gone to bed, and we were trying to get warm in front of the house’s one oil heater.  (This was Canberra in the 70s.)  Suddenly my mother blurted out, ‘You women think you’re such hot shots.  You had an aunt who was a member of the Soviet Politburo!’

What?  I had never heard of this woman, but it turned out that she was one my grandfather’s sisters.  I had known the other two, but not this Lisa.  That was her name – Lisa Fich.  It also turned out that my mother had all her facts wrong.  Yet when I eventually did learn the story, I found it far more compelling than anything my mother had said.  Of course, her aunt had never been on the Politburo – no woman had.  And though my mother had said she was some kind of high-ranking apparatchik, that wasn’t true either.  What Lisa Fich was was a dedicated Zionist who went to Palestine after the first world war, changed her name from Lisa to Leah, and joined the G’dud Ha’Avodah, or Labour Battalion.   Even before the Battalion split into factions, she and some of her colleagues had joined the Communist party and in 1929 were sent back to Russia, where they set up a kolkhoz, Voya Nova, in the Crimea.

My dream was to write a biography of her, and I began by learning Russian, and saturating myself in Russian and Zionist history.  In my search for her story, I interviewed many people, including one who knew her when she was still alive.  But I was stymied on a couple of occasions – once, when I got to Israel and found that the Central Zionist Archives were closed for renovations; another time, in Moscow, when I was given a wrong lead and lost an opportunity to look for her in the recently opened Soviet archives. And because of changes in my personal life, I wasn’t able to travel anymore, so I finally decided to abandon my idea of a biography and write another novel.  This is As the Lonely Fly – my sixth.  The shorthand is that it took 25 years of research and writing, but there were many interruptions, including two other novels in the meantime.

Only last year, as this latest novel went to the printers, an Israeli friend found a mention of my great aunt.  She was listed as the G’dud’s delegate to the Histadrut conference sometime in the 1920s.  This would have been before the G’dud was ostracised by the Labor Zionists – Ben Gurion’s crowd.  I would like to follow this up, but it was clear almost from the beginning of my research that she and her comrades were dissidents who came to renounce the idea of a Jewish state.  Their reasons were partly ideological – they subscribed to Trotsky’s permanent revolution, to which they gave priority over nationalism – but the catalyst for their breaking with Political Zionism was what they saw what was happening to Arab labour.  With the advance of Jewish settlement, idealistic as it was, many Arabs lost their jobs, and they were as well excluded from the Histadrut.  For the first time in my life, I began to see, through this story, that the path that Herzl laid out for us was a very dangerous one indeed.  It was sobering to realise that there were many, including my grandfather’s sister, who saw that right from the beginning.

Now, some say, we have the fact on the ground - Israel is a nation, a Jewish state, and it’s far too late to question the wisdom of its creation.  But my answer to this is that knowing that there were paths not taken can help us find a way out of the very grave situation the Jewish-privileged state is in.  I have come to believe that we in the Diaspora have a very important role to play in this; we need to probe our consciences and recognise our responsibilities.  There is, in my opinion, no escaping this.

As the Lonely Fly is a novel, not a polemic.  The characters throw light on the complexity of the situation and, through them, various perspectives are explored, each of them with sympathy and understanding.  The story is the story, and it’s a big one – bigger than you or me – but the Jewish tradition that I was raised in was, above all, a tradition of justice, and I’m very proud of that.   But I have had to ask myself, where does justice lie now?



Sara Dowse's As the Lonely Fly is available for sale from our website today.

'As the Lonely Fly' - Audio Teaser!

Sara Dowse’s new blockbuster, historical saga As The Lonely Fly, has been enjoying rave reviews. We’re thrilled to announce that As The Lonely Fly will be one of many titles coming to For Pity Sake’s line of audio books very soon. Read by our very own CEO and founder, Jennifer McDonald, As The Lonely Fly tells the breath-taking story of three sisters separated by the surge of history’s tide. Listen to the first chapter below for free! And if you can’t wait to hear the rest, you can buy the paperback right now!

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'As the Lonely Fly' - Book Launch

On the 24th of June, For Pity Sake Publishing was proud to launch the latest Sara Dowse's latest novel, As the Lonely FlyLaunched at Gleebooks by Australian Historian and Academic, Lyndall Ryan. The launch date for As the Lonely Fly coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War and the subsequent occupation of Palestinian territories.This novel tells the story of three remarkable women – an American immigrant, an ardent Israeli and a fearless revolutionary – delineating their separately evolving views on the creation of the Jewish state and its impact on the Arab inhabitants.

In conjunction with Tin Cat Productions, For Pity Sake Publishing has put together a video of the launch of this exciting work of political and historical fiction:


For Pity Sake Publishing and the author of As the Lonely Fly, Sara Dowse, would like to extend out thanks to everyone who came to the launch and made this day such a success! You can purchase your own copy of this powerful work of fiction from our website today.

Praise for 'As the Lonely Fly'

For Pity Sake’s latest title, As the Lonely Fly by Sara Dowse, is set to be released in June 2017. Review copies of this phenomenal work were sent to a distinguished list late last year and recently we’ve received several, very positive responses. Robert Hefner, Literary Editor of the Canberra Times (1988-2000) had this to say: 

"Twenty-five years in the making, As the Lonely Fly represents the distillation of Sara Dowse’s talent. It is a work that unfolds with beauty and depth, magnificently imagined, sweeping in its scope and scale, like a classic Russian novel. This is writing of international importance, never sentimental, always in control, even in the passages that reveal evil at its basest and most banal. A poignant insight into the lives of three women whose personal lives are entwined in the creation of the modern Israeli state, As the Lonely Fly is, above all, an impassioned cry for humanity to heed the call of those still being displaced from their homelands."

 As the Lonely Fly is now available for pre-release purchase from our store. Order your copy now to ensure you're one of the first to receive this astonishing novel hot off the press this June.