Wow, I’ve just finished a ripper of a book – a rundown on some of the best of Australian books and writers, the 2010 edition of ‘Australian Classics: 50 Great Writers and Their Celebrated Works‘ by Jane Gleeson-White.
If you want a crash course in Australian literature, you could do a lot worse than start with this book. Gleeson-White has selected her vision of what are some the greatest Aussie books (novels, poems, short stories, children’s books and non-fiction). Each section gives an outline of the classic book and also the author. She is an eminently readable writer and the volume flows effortlessly (far from being a dry and academic reference book).
I won’t list all books but some classics covered include:
‘Robbery Under Arms’ by Rolph Boldrewood
‘The Sick Stockrider’ by Adam Lindsay Gordon
‘Seven Little Australians’ by Ethel Turner
‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ by Joan Lindsay
‘Five Bells’ by Kenneth Slessor
‘Power without Glory’ by Frank Hardy
‘The Glass Canoe’ by David Ireland
‘The Magic Pudding’ by Norman Lindsay
‘Voss’ by Patrick White
‘An Imaginary Life’ by David Malouf
‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’ by Thomas Keneally
‘Monkey Grip’ by Helen Garner
‘The History of the Kelly Gang’ by Peter Carey
‘Cloudstreet’ by Tim Winton
She has also asked over 40 of Australia’s distinguished writers, readers and editors (including Les Murray, Tim Winton, Sophie Cunningham, David Malouf) to provide their own list of favourite 10 Australian books. I enjoyed reading these lists a great deal (they are interspersed throughout) and it provides a nice counter-balance to Gleeson-White’s list.
The books on my own list seem to be missing in action (Ruth Park’s ‘Muddle Headed Wombat‘ is no-where to be seen; and what about John O Grady’s ‘They’re a Weird Mob‘). I might save my list for another blog post or wait until I have read more of these classics (some I had never heard of – I’ll blame my school teachers for that).
The problem now for me is that I want to get most of these books. I’m making a list (I know I don’t usually do lists, but I am making an exception for this important reminder to self) and I’m checking it twice (sigh) – I will have to prioritise.