Beaches. Vegemite. Kangaroos and Koalas. Hemsworth brothers. A lot of great things have come out of Australia. Great fiction is another. A fellow bookstagrammer recently posed the question: having moved here, what local authors should she try? This got me thinking, thinking of all the amazing Australian authors that have supplied me with some of my favourite books of all time. Thinking about how I want to share them all with you. Here it is, my list of must-read Australian authors.
John Marsden is probably the most prolific young adult author in Australia. his back catalogue is extensive, with novels such as So Much To Tell You, Letters From The Inside and Checkers. His novels deal with some serious issues for teenagers. His writing is mysterious, evocative and his stories will stay with you. His most popular work is the Tomorrow series and many Australian teenagers grew up reading Tomorrow When The War Began as an English text. Read: Tomorrow When The War Began is definitely the best place to start. While his books are aimed at young adults, this series translates well to adults also. The plot is unique and fascinating, leaving you wondering what would you do? A definite must-read and a classic I find myself coming back to regularly.
Melina Marchetta is another young adult author that I believe should be a staple in all teenage Australian girl’s lives. Her novels follow strong, independent and unique young women navigating life. Looking For Alibrandi and Saving Francesca are both set in the suburbs of Sydney with both Josie and Francesca hailing from Australian/Italian families and their unique sets of cultural and familial issues along with all the teenage drama of schools, friendships and boys. On The Jellicoe Road follows Taylor, at boarding school in country NSW. This novel is different to the other two, splitting off between the present times and written memories from a bunch of teenagers in the 80’s. The story is a puzzle for Taylor to put together to understand how she came to live on the Jellicoe Road. Each of Marchetta’s books will touch your heart and leave you in love with the characters. Read: Looking For Alibrandi is the popular favourite, also made into a movie in 2000 but you can’t go wrong with Saving Francesca and On The Jellicoe Road. In fact, read them all!
No other author describes the feeling of Australia quite like Tim Winton. I can’t even describe how his words just capture the essence of Australia and the beautiful landscape that encompasses it. His prose is like free-form poetry and I have found myself under his spell on many occasions. He is definitely a crowd favourite here and has more than earnt every praise. There isn’t much more to say than you need to try one of his books once in your life, particularly if Australia has been your home at some point in your life. His words conjure a strong nostalgia than makes you fall in love with Australia over and over again. Read: Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath are all favourites of mine and all worth the time spent devouring their pages.
The late Bryce Courtenay is definitely a beloved Australian/South African author. The Power of One is one of my favourite novels of all time and certainly my most read (in fact my copy is falling apart from too much love). His love for both his homes: South Africa and Australia is evident in his writing. While both The Power of One and it’s sequel, Tandia, highlight the many problems in South Africa, they describe a harsh but beautiful landscape and culture that you can’t help but fall in love with. Read: Jessica is one of his novels set in Australia. It is one of the most tragic, yet arresting novels you will read.
Kate Morton is the queen of romantic fiction in my books. A discovery I only made this year, I have been captivated by several of her novels and intend to immerse myself in more. Morton creates some intricate mysteries than are generally transgenerational, often taking place over several decades. The ending are perfectly placed puzzles that alway fall together to make complete, dainty endings. Read: Morton’s latest offering The Lake House is what initially hooked me on her work, with The Secret Keeper being another crowd favourite.
Everyone knows Markus Zuzak and his masterpiece The Book Thief. Seriously, if you haven’t read this book, go out and read it. One of my favourite bookish memories from this year was listening to this story as an audiobook. It wasn’t until then that I realised just how poignant his words and descriptions are. This book is 100% worth the hype. The Messenger is one of his lesser known works that is another great read with some interesting perspectives. Read: The Book Thief should definitely be read by all but I would also recommend branching out and trying The Messenger for sure.
Christos Tsiolkas is probably the most forthright author I have ever read. His prose is brutally honest, too much so at times, and utterly riveting. Also another author that highlights how multicultural Australia is, his novels talk about the hard things in life. How they really are and what people really think. I found his words confronting at times but they always ring true. His work is always a great bookclub choice, from the content to the writing style, Tsiolkas’ novels are designed to create opinions and discussion. Read: The Slap is a great book and an interesting look at one event in the eyes of eight different people. You won’t be disappointed.
Relatively new to the writing scene Hannah Kent is a debut author, whose first novel has won much acclaim. I may be biased with Kent hailing from Adelaide, my hometown, but her debut novel Burial Rites has earnt a reputation all of it’s own. Burial Rites follows the story of Agnes, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. Her language, particularly in regards to the scenery, is haunting and leaves you wanting more. Read: Burial Rites is currently her only work, however, keep an eye out for her second novel, The Good People, due to be released in October.