Back in October I wrote about the Australian Book Review’s poll to find our favourite Australian novel (not Australia’s favourite novel!). Well, the result has just lobbed into my email inbox: it’s an interesting list. No great surprises, and it’s certainly pretty acceptable even though one can always find something to argue about when the opportunity arises.
Here they are:
- Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton (since members of the Australian Society of Authors voted this their top novel in 2003, it’s not a totally surprising win – and I’m happy enough with it!)
- The fortunes of Richard Mahony, by Henry Handel Richardson (the oldest in the top ten – and great to see a woman in second spot!)
- Voss, by Patrick White (woo hoo … this was my well-considered vote!!)
- Breath, by Tim Winton (another guernsey for the popular Tim – and perhaps its ranking here is largely due to its still being fresh in people’s minds? You know, along the lines of how well Harry Potter has done in recent readers’ polls. I’m not saying this is a bad choice but … currency often does come into play in these polls doesn’t it?)
- Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey (this would have been a serious contender for my second choice if I’d had one, because I think it is often overlooked in discussions like this)
- My brother Jack, by George Johnston
- The secret river, by Kate Grenville (a riveting read that gets to the heart of our origins as a convict settlement and so good to see here)
- Eucalyptus, by Murray Bail (great to see this beautiful fable-like tale appearing in the top 10)
- The man who loved children, by Christina Stead
- The tree of man, by Patrick White (another worthy choice I think … though after Voss it is hard to choose which White should come next!)
In the link I’ve provided above, you will find the next 10, and here is a link to the complete list. Apparently 290 were nominated, and thousands (nothing more specific than that) voted.
And, before I close, some basic stats. Ten novels:
- 8 authors;
- 3 women;
- no indigenous author (but Alexis Wright does appear in the top 20);
- all published after 1900 (but a couple of earlier ones appear in the top 20); and
- I have read only 7, of which I am a little ashamed (but I have seen one of the others as a miniseries – does that count? – and the remaining two are in my TBR, one physical, one virtual).