For the last few months, Thursdays have been a good day. Most Thursdays, I’ve jumped on a tram in the afternoon and headed into the city for the Wheeler Centre’s Australian Literature 101 series.
But now the series is over. I’m going to miss it, as every session has without exception provided food for thought or inspiration for my creative writing. Better still, it’s prompted me to read books that I might otherwise have neglected.
The question is, what should I read next?
Admittedly, I still need to catch up on the reading that I begun as a result of the series. I’ve yet to finish Patrick White’s Voss, dense tome that it is, as I was distracted by Monkey Grip and That Deadman Dance.
That Deadman Dance was the subject of the final session. I’ll write a post specifically about it soon, but in the meantime I want to start a list of Australian literature to read once I’ve finished Voss. (And once I’ve handed in the 10,000 words of essays that I have due over the next month!)
Michael Heyward of Text Publishing has an article in The Age today about the lack of interest in Australian literature, specifically at universities. It’s a topic that Heyward has been writing about a lot lately, alongside of the release of the Text Classics series.
It’s great to see this debate getting so much air, and I know that my reading experience has been enriched over the last few months thanks to the spotlight that’s been turned onto Australian literature.
The Wheeler Centre is going to run a second series next year, Australian Literature 102, and they have invited us all to contribute to the discussion about what that series should look like. Should it be thematic? Or chronological? Should the books be famous, or relatively obscure?
Readers, what do you think? In Australian literature, what books or plays or collections of poetry would you like to talk more about, or learn more about?
6 thoughts on “Australian Literature: what should I read next?”
Love the work of Thea Astley……
I have to admit that I haven’t yet read any Thea Astley yet. Any suggestions as to which of her novels would be a good place to begin?
I’m currently half way through “The Glass Canoe” by David Ireland which is beautifully written. Also looking forward to reading two more recently re-released editions from Text publishing; “1788” by Watkin Tench and “Terra Australis” by Matthew Flinders. A return to the past indeed!
Perhaps the Glass Canoe is something that the Wheeler Centre should include in their program next year? – since David Ireland has been so neglected in recent years. I missed the AusLit101 session on Watkin Tench, but the video is available so will have to check it out…
I’ve been impressed with Sophie Cunningham’s books: Geography and Bird. I like Gail Jones’ writing too. Benang is amazing! David Brooks has written some interesting historical fiction. I love The Household Guide to Dying. Anna Funder looks like she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with and she’s only written one novel!
Thanks for the suggestions! It’ll be interesting to see if Anna Funder takes out the Miles Franklin this year…