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12 books every Australian should read THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT this wide, brown land of ours, fringed by water, that conjures up a powerful sense of place, and how small we can sometimes feel within it.
An undercurrent of the best Australian writing has always been strong characters, an irreverent voice, and a background sale jimmy choo trainers of bustling, dirty inner city suburbs, small, sunbaked rural towns and uneasy tropical communities at the mercy of ferocious weather. Here we have a list of 12 Australian stories that really couldn't have been set anywhere else. 1. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin (Text Classics, 2012) first published in 1901 Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin wrote My Brilliant Career when she was only 16 years old, and in doing so she gifted us with a character many suspected was autobiographical: Sybylla Melvyn, a flighty, tempestuous, cynical, funny girl born well before her time, a heroine railing against the social mores of 1890s landholding society in Australia. Henry Lawson himself described My Brillant Career thusly: "the descriptions of bush life and scenery came startlingly, painfully real to me, and I know that, as far as they are concerned, the book is true to Australia the truest I ever read." Sybylla is a bundle of contradictions: a charming tomboy who likes to wear a pretty dress, a self pitying soul yearning to be loved, yet shunning romance when it presents itself. She grows up on a lush property in NSW until her father buys drought stricken land in Possum Gully and gambles and drinks away the family's earnings. Sybylla is sent to live with her grandmother and aunt on a property that sounds like the Australian settler's holy land, all flowing streams and lush ferns and the warble of birdsong. Miles Franklin had a lasting impact on Australian literature through her endowment of the Miles Franklin Award, a major jimmy choo hours annual prize for literature about "Australian Life in any of its phases". (Source: State Library of New South Wales / Wikimedia). This book might be Australia's answer to a Jane Austen society tale of manners and marriage, except that Sybylla is having none of it. She has a horror of marriage, which she sees as a constraint on her ambitions, and holds firm to her freedom at a potentially enormous personal cost, at a time when the most a woman could hope for was to marry well. But as the story barrels along, it's in describing the Australian landscape that Franklin drops Sybylla's funny, cynical tones for pure poetry, particularly the daily struggle to keep on living on drought ravaged lands: Now and again there would be a few days of the raging wind before mentioned, which carried the dry grass off the paddocks and piled it against the fences, darkened the air with dust, and seemed to promise rain, but ever it dispersed whence it came, taking with it the few clouds it had gathered up; and for weeks and weeks at a stretch, from horizon to horizon, was never a speck to mar the cruel dazzling brilliance of the metal sky. 2. The Harp In The South by Ruth Park (Penguin Books, 2008) first published in 1948 New Zealand born Park has been a steady Australian favourite for over half a century, and The Harp In The South has never been out of print since it was published. Reading Park is a crucial part of the puzzle of Australian life leaping into her yarns written in the vernacular of the day, tackling the stuff of life in a ballsy, earthy, Australian way, where characters pull themselves up by their boostraps and just get on with it. A former journalist, Park turned to fiction after her children were born and was 28 when The Harp In The South was published. She said she didn't have much choice in her subject matter, as she only knew Surry Hills people or the newspaper world, and jimmy choo leopard pumps was afraid her fellow reporters would have sued her. "I didn't know very much, but I did try to tell the truth as I saw it," she said in an interview in 1981. And so she did, creating a big hearted, warm, no nonsense portrait of slum life in Surry Hills after World War Two, depicting squalid terrace houses creeping with bedbugs, which smelled of leaking gas and rats and "mouldering wallpaper that had soaked up the odours of a thousand meals". The second generation Irish Darcy family live there: alcoholic father Hughie, long suffering Ma, and daughters Roie and Dolour, surrounded by a melting pot of local colour: razor gangs, prostitutes, nuns, and ebbing and flowing racial tensions between Anglos and Jews, Aboriginal people and Chinese immigrants. Park copped a lot of criticism when the book was published, including from Miles Franklin herself, who called it "a shoddy sordid performance of a very phony journalistic book," full of "catch cries to the gallery". Park felt a lot of it came because she was a New Zealander, and a woman, writing a social realist book covering issues that few male novelists of the time were game to touch: the female perspective of marriage, sexual politics, physical violence and abortion. SequelPoor Man's Orangewas published in 1949, and prequelMissusfollowed much later, in 1985. 3. But although White is Australia's only Nobel Laureate in Literature (winning in 1973), for decades it has been popular to dislike and exile him for what many viewed jimmy choo sequin flats as his arrogance and elitism. With a reputation for being difficult, one newspaper review declared White to be "Australia's most unreadable novelist". White himself said "I'm a dated novelist, whom hardly anybody reads, or if they do, most of them don't understand what I am on about. Certainly I wish I had never writtenVoss, which is going to be everybody's albatross.
" On this day: First Australian Nobel Prize for Literature This book seizes onto the desert as a map of the Australian psyche, as the egomaniacal, megalomaniacal explorer Voss (compared to Faust and Hitler) plans to pioneer an overland route to conquer the country from the east to the west coast. Instead, he vanishes without a trace into the unforgiving desert. The story links the German explorer with Laura Trevelyan, an orphaned spinster, with whom he strikes up a passionate connection, communicating via dreams and deliriums during their separation as he treks towards his death.