Australian Literature: what should I read next?

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?