I am trying to put together a list of Australian books for my Reading Australian Writing class that would help to give a sense of Australia's 'canon'. I am also teaching a Novels class, and we discussed the cultural cringe in that class too. A few names came up as quintessential Australian writers (Tim Winton and Bryce Courtney mainly), but many of these readers had never, for example, encountered some of our brilliant urban writers. So I want to offer a range of choices and voices, including some more urban literature. Short stories and poetry are important too of course, though I feel like it's easier to access a 'canon' for short stories and poetry because of the number of anthologies available that can point you towards an author's body of work.
So far I have, in no particular order:
Something by Patrick White (suggestions? I've only read The Vivisector)
Something by Peter Carey (suggestions? I'm a bit underwhelmed by Peter Carey's writing, but I do think he's part of our 'canon'. Perhaps True History of the Kelly Gang*?)
The Grisly Wife by Rodney Hall
Lillian's Story by Kate Grenville
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin*
Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (though anything by her would go on my list)
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner
Monkey Grip (and The Spare Room) by Helen Garner
Three Dollars by Eliot Perlman
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson
The Plains by Gerald Murnane*
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Capricornia by Xavier Herbert*
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
The Boys in the Island by Christopher Koch
Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardsonm (or should that be Fortunes of Richard Mahoney*?)
Okay I'm flagging. I want to include Susan Johnson in this list, but I'm not sure which one, maybe Hungry Ghosts? Should I put Beverly Farmer down, or should I acknowledge that her novels, though sparkling with the same prose as her stories lack something (when her short stories are often perfect). Randolph Stowe - Merry go round in the sea? Ivan Southall, Eleanor Spence are two more definites...but again, not sure which title. And there's so many more of course. Oh yeah, Richard Flanagan.
Anyway, join in. Australian recommended reads for emerging Australian writers and scholars. And if you also don't read Australian books, then why not? I will compile a more definitive list using your suggestions. If you think any of the above should be removed, make a case for that too.
*The ones with stars I haven't read but I know enough to know I should have.