Friday, 28 December 2007

Some of our best Australian writers

Dove Grey Reader, writer of a respected and well-read UK book blog, is wondering about authors from our part of the world, so I thought I'd list some of our many great writers.
And please, Aussie book-loving friends, do add some names here in your comments. I've been out of the country for a couple of years, so there are bound to be some names I haven't come across yet.
There'll also be names I've forgotten in the rush to assure anyone thinking about Australian literature that there is more to read — so much more — than Patrick White. Yes. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1973, died in 1990, and is still revered. But please don't stop there.
I've put this list of authors, with a few notable titles, in alphabetical order, for easy access.

Murray Bail Eucalyptus 1998; Holden's Performance '02
Lily Brett Too Many Men '02, You Gotta Have Balls '06
Peter Carey Bliss '81, Illywhacker '85, etc. Bookers in '88 for Oscar and Lucinda and '01 for The True History of the Kelly Gang.
Peter Corris Doyen of Australian crime fiction. Cliff Hardy, his detective, appears in novels and short stories, including The Undertow '06
Bryce Courtenay Prolific, S. African-Australian. The Power of One '97, The Persimmon Tree '07
Robert Dessaix Essayist, novelist, journalist, well-known literary interviewer and commentator, Night Letters '96, Corfu '01, Travels with Turgenev '04 — see also this post by Ex Libris
Robert Drewe The Bodysurfers '83, The Drowner '97, The Shark Net '00
Nick Earls Fiction for adults and young adults. Zigzag Street '90s, Bachelor Kisses '90s, Perfect Skin '01, After Summer '05, Monica Bloom '06
Helen Garner Essayist, feature journalist, fiction and non-fiction writer. Monkey Grip '77, The Children's Bach '84, Cosmo Cosmolino '92, The First Stone '95
Kate Grenville Lilian's Story '85, Dark Places '94, The Idea of Perfection '99
Shirley Hazzard Bay of Noon '70, The Transit of Venus '80, The Great Fire '03
Thomas Keneally Playwright, screenwriter, author, made the Booker shortlist four times before winning in '82 for Schindler's Ark; also wrote The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith '72, An Angel in Australia 02, A Widow and Her Hero '07
David Malouf Poems, short stories, plays, novels. An Imaginary Life '78, Remembering Babylon '93, The Conversations at Curlow Creek '96
John Marsden One of the most popular Australian writers for children and young adults. So Much to Tell You '87, Tomorrow When the War Began '93 and the other six books in the series, to '97
Drusilla Modjeska Poppy '90, The Orchard '94, Stravinsky's Lunch '99, Timepieces '02
Sally Morgan Painter and writer. My Place '87
Craig Silvey Fabulous young Western Australian writer, whose first novel, Rhubarb, '04, was named WA's One Book for the 2005 Perth International Arts Festival
Randolph Stow Reclusive but wonderful Western Australian writer and poet. To the Islands '58, Tourmaline '63, The Merry-go-round in the Sea '65
Tim Winton Much-acclaimed and loved WA writer of novels, children's books, short stories and non-fiction. That Eye the Sky '86, Cloudstreet '91 etc. Shortlisted for the Booker in '95 for The Riders, and in '02 for Dirt Music.
Sue Woolfe Screenwriter, documentary writer and author. Painted Woman '89, Leaning Towards Infinity '96, The Secret Cure '03

Australia has some prestigious literature prizes. The Miles Franklin Award is given annually, for novels, while The Australian/Vogel Award is for younger writers (under 26, I think) who are very often the names to watch in future years. Then there are the Premier's Book Awards in each state.

Edited Dec 28.
This list is very light on in terms of older and classic Australian lit. I haven't mentioned Henry Handel Richardson, for example, or Marcus Clarke, Christina Stead, or Neville Shute ... I apologise!


dovegreyreader said...

Thanks so much for this great list Lesley.Eucalyptus will be on my best reads of 2007. I have David Malouf lined up because I've been promising to read him for ages, along with Carpentaria by Alexis Wright which I gather won the Miles Franklin.I've been looking into some writers from the past and Dymphna Cusack's Jungfrau intrigues me but not a copy to be found anywhere, do you know anything about her at all?

Meg said...

If the purpose of the exercise is to get to know a country through its writing, I think AB Facey's A Fortunate Life would have to be on the list.
Do you know the Matilda weblog?
It's a great resource on Australian literature.

Lesley (El Zed) said...

Yes, thanks for that, Meg. Facey should definitely be on the list.

Sarah said...

Personally, I'd suggest David Malouf, Shirley Hazzard, Ruth Park and Shane Maloney.

Karen said...

Eek, just the kind of thing I want to make a comment on, and life has been hectic the last couple of days, what with family and friends here from interstate, and entertaining to be done... So, rapidly in the interim, till I get a chance to sit and have a proper think about this, I would like to mention Michelle de Kretser, whose The Hamilton Case is an absolute cracker of a read, and who has a new novel out now (name escapes me) that I'm desperate to get my hands on. Her first novel, The Rose Grower, was an accomplished fiction debut that didn't thrill me, but The Hamilton Case really is the goods. I can't wait to see if she has carried through with the next one.

Meg said...

Richard Flanagan's name popped into my head in the middle of the night!

Lazy cow said...

Better late than never!
Charmaine Clift (George Johnson's wife): Mermaid singing; Peel me a lotus and several others. All memoirs. Most set in Greece though.
I have a Dymphna Cusack book of my mother's but cannot recall the title, sorry.
Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief, The Messanger) is Australian too!
Sunnyside by Joanna Murray-Smith is a satire, set on the Mornington Peninsula.
Eliot Perlman (Three Dollars, Seven types of Ambiguity) and Steven Carroll (The Gift of speed, and others) write beautifully.

Lesley said...

I completely forgot about Perlman, and I've got The Book Thief right here with me. Duh!