Perhaps it's a measure of self-interest, but when I'm in a bookshop, I gravitate towards novels written by Australian writers; not exclusively of course. The last six months has been a feast. It's no secret that I'm a Tim Winton fan and, yes, I know that not everyone is. I launched into Eyrie with the usual hunger I have for his books and was not disappointed - ok, perhaps a little bit at the end, but I'm used to that with his novels. I don't mind having to stretch my imagination to find a suitable ending when what precedes it is first class. When I read the spiel and looked at the cover of Arthur Miller's Coal Creek, I wasn't sure that this was a book for me, but I trust Miller, based on many of his previous works. For a while I was irritated by the voice of the protagonist, but soon found myself carried along with his story as though he was relating it to me by the campfire. Sadly, Christos Tsiolkas's Barracuda left me NOT wanting more -really, I just didn't care about his character enough, and this was a shame. Dead Europe was a wonderful, though disturbing novel, and, of course The Slap was, well ... enough said. Hannah Kent's Burial Rites was totally absorbing, as was Fiona Capp's Gotland.
Such wonderful talent in Australia and I haven't even touched the surface. Alexis Wright steeps the reader in the beauty of the Australian landscape from an indigenous perspective; Steven Carroll transports me back to growing up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne; Kate Grenville makes me weep in one of my most favourite novels The idea of Perfection. Lily Brett makes me laugh, and cry; Joan London endows unlikely characters with heroic gifts in Gilgamesh. The list of authors and their works goes on and that's still confined to a particular genre.
Is the general public catching on? Of course we are blessed with a plethora of wonderful international authors, and it's not in anyone's interest to confine reading to one culture, but I suspect there might still be a bias against Australian writers as though they're just not good enough. Things are changing, I hope so anyway. In the meantime I'll continue to blow their trumpet.