Sunday, June 25, 2006

Of Daggy Sheep and Colonial Chaos

Ron and Eric, being much more on the ball than me, blogged days ago about Roger McDonald's winning Australia's premier prize for fiction: The Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Mc Donald's novel: The Ballad of Desmond Kale is set in early colonial Australia and about the attempts to bread sheep that will 'magically' produce fine wool. The book blurb promises a brilliant vision of colonial chaos.

I feel I have a vested interest in it already. A more dynamic branch of my family tree, the Shearers, emigrated to Australia and introduced the first merino sheep. And if you don't believe me, you can ask my Uncle Bill and my Canadian Cousin, Glen, who have spent years researching our collective history!

Anyway, there's plenty of excellent Australian fiction being written, but not a great deal seems to find it's way in to the bookshops here unless it gets picked up by an international publishing house or wins a prestigious award. Has anyone seen Kate Grenville's Commonwealth Prize Winning The Secret River in the bookshops here?

Ron and Dean? I'm promoting you to my official Antipodean correspondents and would love to hear your best recent Aussie reads. (You might as well do something useful if you're going to hang out here!)

You can read more about McDonald's win in the Australian.


Eric Forbes said...

Hello Sharon - I found my copy of Kate Grenville's The Secret River (2005) from Kinokuniya two months ago. They might have a copy or two now. Happy reading!

Dean said...

Hi Sharon -- I have to admit from the outset that I'm not one of those avid Australophiles who only read local fiction. Very much not the case. In fact, I've been known to vocalise my aversion to xenophobic bibliophilia on the Matilda blog.

One of the reasons I like your blog is that it gives me a window on the Malaysian scene that I'd otherwise never get.

I've never read Roger McDonald's book, or any of his other books for that matter. And I don't really aspire to.

But there's a good article in addition to the one from The Australian that you highlight, in The Sydney Morning Herald:

bibliobibuli said...

eric :-D - i knew you would say kino! i will look for it next time i'm in town

dean - i can understand that. i didn't read so many books by british writers for a time because i wanted to see what else was out there (and frankly it was so hard to get books in the places i lived)

i'm glad you find it interesting to read about what's happening on the litscene in this part of the world ... and thanks for the link to the other article

i guess i have a fear that will britain and the US dominating the book market, a lot of really good stuff from elsewhere tends to get overlooked

but i do love much of the australian literature i've read - peter carey, tim winton, patrick white especially

Dean said...

Yeah, they're good. you might also like another writer -- from Melbourne -- named Christos Tsiolkas. I'm really keen on his work.

He wrote recently a book called Dead Europe, but his most popular book is called Loaded. It was made into a movie, which accounts for its popularity. He also wrote one of the best books I've read in recent years called The Jesus Man. I highly recommend it.

Tsiolkas is interesting being from a migrant background (Greek). He's also gay. He currently works as a nurse to supplement the income he receives from writing. He deserves more recognition.

sympozium said...

Sharon - I too saw the Grenville book in Kino.

There are a lot of excellent South African writers - Andre Brink, Michiel Heyns, Dan Sleigh...

Greenbottle said...

i was in australia for six years a long while back and the only book i ever read by an aussie was 'the solid mandala' by patrick white...that book about breeding sheep to get fine wool..that sounds interesting...that reminds me, i was with some friends one time doing some agronomy research for our uni project on one of those sheep meadows and i remember we got to discussing if someone give you enough money would you err..have sex with an ewe?...a few didn't seem to put too much of a price if the sheep is 'good looking enough' some gave a very high figure... i didn't give any because i was the one who asked the question...

bibliobibuli said...

*shakes head sadly*

sympozium said...

Re: the question about sex with sheep - Wouldn't some response have been along the lines of "F*ck ewe!" ?? :-)))

bibliobibuli said...