Top Ten Tuesday – Australian Modern Literature

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is a ‘freebie‘ – book bloggers can go crazy on their pet topic.

I tossed around a few ideas for a theme – I love all things Art Deco and 1920s and I’m also always drawn to stories set in New York or New England – strong possibilities for my top ten. However, from my observation, most of the bloggers participating in Top Ten Tuesday live in the US so I figured this week’s ‘freebie’ was the perfect opportunity to wave the flag for some talented Australian authors (with a particular focus on books that have been published in recent years). Here’s my top ten:

1. Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (published in the US and UK as What The Birds See) Of a Boy is simultaneously one of the most harrowing, most heart-breaking and most brilliant books I’ve ever read. When I lent it to friend, she said “Will I need counselling after reading this?” “Yes,” I replied “But read it anyway.”

2. Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany If writing style can be true to the Australian agricultural landscape, this is it – sparse, brittle, obvious. But look a little closer and you’ll find there’s much more to see. Tiffany’s characters are incredibly engaging and their story, stunning.

3. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail  Any book that truly ‘finishes’ on the very last page in a way that is so unexpected, so surprising and so intensely satisfying, wins me. I did not see where the story was heading until the last page and I closed the book smiling and amazed at the cleverness of the conclusion. It’s a modern fairytale and is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever read.

4. Animal People by Charlotte Wood Wood’s characters are stunningly original, perfectly detailed and her stories are peppered with black humour.

5. Nice Girl by Rachael Chin This is an account of the Keli Lane/Tegan Lane case that has gripped the Australian public, media and legal fraternity for over a decade. If you’re into true crime then Chin’s tight, journalistic writing style will keep you reading well into the night!

6. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak One of my favourite books of all time, The Book Thief made me laugh and made me cry (lots). It’s set during World War II in Germany and is the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books.

7. The Slap by  Christos Tsiolkas Want to start debate amongst friends? Buy a copy of The Slap and lend it to them. This book will divide readers. You won’t be able to put it down. Don’t let the fact that you probably won’t like a single character put you off. It will make you examine parenting values, family bonds and what friendships can endure.

8. The First Stone by Helen Garner I attended Melbourne University at the time in which this book was set. It’s an account of one of Australia’s most explosive sexual harassment cases and Garner’s experience as a journalist shines through. But the book runs deeper than a simple, factual retelling of the case. It’s a legal thriller, it’s an exploration of sex and power – it will leave you thinking long after you have finished reading.

9. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks A book about the Black Plague may not sound like pleasant reading but Brooks’ 2002 bestseller is gripping.

10. Bachelor Kisses by Nick Earls Ok, Earls was actually born in Ireland but he considers himself an Aussie. And he is Australia’s answer to Nick Hornby. All of his books are funny, packed with suburban references, relationship turmoil and often ace retro details. I picked Bachelor Kisses but you can’t go wrong with any of his novels.

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13 responses

  1. I haven’t read any of these, but I’ve read some Australian authors and loved them to bits. Good stuff spreading the word about Australian lit – if ever you want to read South African literature, I’ve got some suggestions here .
    Great list 🙂

  2. I think Australian authors are starting to really be noticed here in the US. Really great idea for a top ten! I didn’t know Markus Zusak was Australian!! Really? That is certainly one of my top ten books of all time:)

    Here’s my Top Ten.

  3. Pingback: A top ten of top tens. I know, ace. | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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