While I was researching Australian fiction, people started asking me what they should read. This is a tricky question because you need to provide an answer while carefully avoiding establishing a canon. bearing in mind that any recommendation would reflect my own tastes, I tried to conceive a neutral space like a giant table on which would lie any appealing Australiana-packed novel, for avid readers to make their own choices.
For much of its history, novel writing in Australia has been seen as on offshoot of, or even one and the same as, the English novel. But, just as the nation has moved further and further way from being British, so too has the novel, shaped by the writers who call the country home. A Brief Take on the Australian Novel offers a survey of these writers and of the evolution of the Australian novel from colonial times to the present, including the influence of global trends, shifting social and political landscapes, the role of immigrants, minorities and Aindigenous writers, and more.
Written in accessible language and with discussion of what Vernay considers key texts and authors, chapters are broken by ‘Inserts’ win the form of whole page text boxes exploring individual texts, significant authors and more. This comprehensive overview does not claim to be all-encompassing or indisputable, instead being the ‘take’ of Vernay, a self-described outsider, who grew up in New Caledonia with a French father and Australian mother, but who has spent 20 years researching Australian fiction.
Suitable for any one with a love of or interest in Australian literature.
Source: Sally Murphy, Aussie Reviews, 11 August 2016.