Australian Authors…

A fairly quick post today and one which calls for your recommendations whilst telling you about a lovely reading project from a fellow blogger, who is a favourite of mine, which could also make money for a good literary cause. The ever-so lovely Kim of Reading Matters is hosting her second Australian Literature Month throughout April 2013, which of course is now. What’s more, as well as doing some lovely giveaways, she has said that “for every review of Australian literature posted on Reading Matters — and on other blogs around the world using my logo — during Australian Literature Month (April 1 to 30), I’m going to donate 50 pence to the Indigenous Literacy Fund. That might not sound like much, but if we get 100 reviews posted online that’s an easy £50 right there.”

6a00d83451bcff69e2017ee908e15b970dI think this is a wonderful idea and while I was planning on joining in with Australian Literature Month anyway (as it is a project where you can read by whim whichever books you like by Australian authors) it has given me the added incentive to read a few more than I was planning in order to raise some money for charity, via Kim and I thought some of you might like to aswell?

Of course now the question is which blinking books do I read, because I am actually a bit hopeless on knowing where authors come from and when I was trying to think of some Australian authors my mind just went blank. I have thought of Tim Winton, Thomas Keneally, Kate Grenville and Peter Carey… then I got a bit stuck, and I fancy some quite different authors this year, I have a plan to read one massive Rapunzel based book for the end of the month if I can squeeze it in, but I would like some others along the way. I am hoping a parcel from Australia containing one of Ruth Parks books might make it across the pond in time, we will see.

Who would you recommend as your favourite Australian author and which of their books should I read? Do you have one particular favourite Australian novel of all time (in fact I must pop and check The ABC Book Group – my fav book show ever – to see if past shows can give me any inspiration) that you would recommend? I would love your thoughts and inspiration.

24 Comments

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24 responses to “Australian Authors…

  1. David

    In the spirit of Australian Literature Month I’m currently reading Michelle de Kretser’s ‘Questions of Travel’ but finding it a real slog (much as I did her previous novel, ‘The Lost Dog’) so I wouldn’t immediately recommend that one.

    As for favourite Australian authors and books: top of my list have to be Alex Miller (I’d recommend any of his but particularly ‘Journey to the Stone Country’) and David Malouf (‘The Great World’ and ‘Harland’s Half Acre’ are my favourites among his novels, but ‘Dream Stuff’, a collection of short stories is my favourite of all his books).

    I’d also heartily recommend Randolph Stow’s ‘The Merry-go-round in the Sea’ and D’Arcy Niland’s ‘The Shiralee’ both of which are just wonderful.

    Elliot Perlman’s powerful ‘The Street Sweeper’ was one of my favourite books from last year. Andrew McGahan’s ‘The White Earth’, Jeremy Chambers’ ‘The Vintage and the Gleaning’, Jon Bauer’s ‘Rocks in the Belly’, Charlotte Wood’s ‘The Submerged Cathedral’, Christopher Koch’s ‘Lost Voices’, Deborah Robertson’s ‘Careless’, Gillian Mears’ ‘Foal’s Bread’, and Matthew Condon’s ‘The Trout Opera’ are a few more I’d recommend.

    My Aussie tbr pile is getting quite mountainous so I’m going to try and get through a few at least this month – I have books waiting to be read by George Johnston, Richard Flanagan, Evie Wyld, Steven Carroll, Cate Kennedy, Frank Moorhouse, Roger MacDonald, Georgia Blain, Thea Astley, Joan Lindsay, Elizabeth Harrower, Sumner Locke Elliott, Glenda Guest, Kim Scott, Nicholas Angel, Sarah Armstrong, Patrick Cullen, Sandra Hall, Tony Birch, Nikki Gemmell, Ryan O’Neill, Nerida Newton and Fiona MacGregor. Phew!

    • I’ve just finished Questions of Travel and agree it was a slog… I really enjoyed it once I got into it, but I’m left wondering what the point of the story was… Still mulling over my thoughts. Will publish a review in a week or two.

      • David

        I’ll look forward to your review, Kim. I think I’m going to set it aside for a couple of days and read something a bit zippier just to refresh me before plunging back in for the last couple of hundred pages.

    • Louise Trolle

      I can’t find the Dream Stuff book anywhere? Do you have a link or a reference to where it can be gotten hold of?🙂

  2. When I was young (before Tim Winton began writing) it was rare to find books written about Western Australia (and even now I think we tend to think of ourselves as isolated and overlooked). However, one of the few books to attempt a description of life here is also my favourite Australian novel of all time. I suggest The Merry-go-Round in the Sea by Randolph Stow – it is a wonderful book. My second favourite would be Clive James’ memoir of a 1940s childhood in Sydney, Unreliable Memoirs.

  3. Hello Simon, thanks for such a wonderful post and for spreading the word about Australian Literature Month.

    David’s already named a lot of my favourites — The Merry Go Round in the Sea is just lovely (and easily available in UK). Ditto for The Shiralee. And The Great World is one of my all-time favourites.

    I think I told you about Utopia Man, which I think you would really like, because it is about books and is very Victorian. I initially thought it was only available on Kindle but I see you can also get the paperback version here.

    Oh, and do try, The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, which I’m reading now and very much enjoying. It’s really delightful about a bunch of women working in a department store in Sydney in the 1950s and I’m getting quite a few chuckles out of it. I note that Abacus reprinted it in the UK a couple of years ago, so is easily available. It is also published by Text in Australia.

  4. Margo Lanagan! You mentioned Tender Morsels and her most recent novel Sea Hearts/The Brides of Rollrock Island on the podcast and this month is a perfect time to try her. I love her short stories and am looking forward to reading her novels very much.

  5. I enjoyed book by Jaclyn Moriarty (“I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes”), “Sorry” by Gail Jones and, recently, Stedman’s “Light Between Oceans”…

  6. Sharkell

    Some of my favourite Australian books are:

    A Fortunate Life by A B Facey
    Thursdays Child by Sonya Hartnett (YA)
    Ransom by David Malouf
    Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
    Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
    Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett
    The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
    The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
    Dirt Music by Tim Winton

    The Shiralee, mentioned above, is also awesome. I know as soon as I post this I am going to kick myself as I will remember many more!

  7. Robert Dessaix is my favourite Australian writer. Check out Miles Franklin award winners and Text publishing for a quick list. Pam

  8. I found the long list just out for Miles Franklin prize. The short list will be announced before too long. Hope you can see this link. Happy Aussie reading.
    http://www.linc.tas.gov.au/events/featured/readrelax/miles-of-reading-challenge

  9. Rowena E

    I’d strongly recommend Steven Carroll. His suburban trilogy starting with ‘The Art of the Engine Driver’, is excellent. He is also writing a series based on the Dour Quartets of TS Eliot, but I haven’t read those.

  10. ifnotread

    How about a suggestion that is a little different – an LGBT thriller written entirely in prose? I loved it to pieces. The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter…

  11. Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts is a revelation, one I have been recently fortunate to have. And I am loving Carrie Tiffanys Mateship with Birds, nominated for a couple of major prizes and really special!!
    I was absorbed by Questions of Travel, but had to make a couple of attempts to find my way into it, once there, it was a satisfying read.
    Intriguing and absorbing too is Floundering by Romy Ash, but just very very sad and desperately so. All of these are nominations for either Stella or Miles Franklin awards. Am really right in there with the lists this year!, Loved your chat on the Stella with Kim.

  12. I have read “Voss” by Patrick White and while I found it flawed I did admire the writing about the travels in the outback greatly. Other, better, commentators (such as Harriet Devine and the much missed Books do Furnish a Room) were very much more positive overall. It was an early CBG choice and you can read our thoughts on it here http://cornflower.typepad.com/domestic_arts_blog/2008/05/voss.html

  13. well I m reading Randolph Stow simon he is older and less well known now writer ,Maybe should try Lisa at ANZLITLOVERS blog she has loads and loads of australian writers ,all the best stu

  14. Delyn

    Definitely Patrick White for me ! “Voss” has already been mentioned – not everyone’s cup of tea but I love it – but also “The Eye of the Storm” and “The Tree of Man” in particular.

  15. Hello Simon – I have just found your blog via Stuck in a Book and am converted as a result to finding and reading The Crane Wife! I have a book blog I don’t write in a lot called The Passionate Bookworm.

    Re Australian books to read, I think Eucalyptus is a lovely book – see Kim’s review of it. I remember reading it when I was in Australia and living in a Sydney suburb which had some lovely eucalyptus trees, and also seeing some great towering forests of them elsewhere, and this book reminds me of those trees and takes me to Australia, as well as being an unusual love story.

    I also liked Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang which is written very well in a sort of Victorianish prose that’s direct and powerful, so you feel the voice of Ned Kelly.

  16. Louise Trolle

    Well for those who like fantasy I’d strongly recommend Garth Nix – M. Monday or Sabriel.

    there’s also this list on Goodreads
    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14644.Australian_recent_fiction#1217281

  17. Geraldine

    Geraldine Brooks. All of hers and especially March and Caleb’s Crossing.

  18. When you are done with your stacks of reading for the Liverpool festival and your other projects, there are plenty of great Australian suggestions already in the comments. I’d like to give enthusiastic seconds to Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey’s Mask and to anything by Cate Kennedy, Gail Jones, Margo Lanagan and Sonya Hartnett. No one has yet mentioned Joan London; I think you’d like both Gilgamesh and The Good Parents. Also, look for Carpentaria by Aboriginal author Alexis Wright.

  19. lauredhel

    I second Jasper Jones and Sea Hearts – they’re terrific. If you want to dip a toe into indie Aussie genre (fantasy, SF and horror), the Twelve Planets books from Twelfth Planet Press are marvellous – each one a small collection with four short stories or a novella and short stories by an Australian woman writer. All are available in ebook now, I think.

    I also recommend “Am I Black Enough For You?” (Anita Heiss), Mullumbimby (Melissa Lucashenko), The Fine Colour of Rust (Paddy O’Reilly), The Book of Rachael (Leslie Cannold), The Midnight Dress (Karen Foxlee), Finding Jasper (Lynne Leonhardt), and The Courier’s New Bicycle (Kim Westwood).

    If you want to try some Aussie YA, both of Vikki Wakefield books are wonderful, as are all of Penni Russon’s (start with Only Ever Always), and Cargo (Jessica Au).

    If I had to pick just one of these? Mullumbimby all the way. It’s my pick for next year’s Stella.

  20. I’ve read so little Australian fiction I probably shouldn’t stick my head in this one. And what I am about to suggest might raise the hackles of some…If yuou haven’t read it already On the Beach by Nevil Shute is a page turner that will leave you with a good sob at the end. Shute was actually a British ex-pat in Australia but OTB is set there and he seems to really have taken to the country (A Town Called Alice and Breaking the Waves I think.) His style is dated but in a good 1940s movie kind of way.

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