His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart. Get your copy of Jasper Jones here. This is a tale of corruption stretching from street corner SP bookmaking to the most influential men in the land — and the terrible personal cost of the power such corruption brings.
John West rose from a Melbourne slum to dominate Australian politics with bribery, brutality and fear. His attractive wife and their children turned away from him in horror. Friends dropped away. At the peak of his power, surrounded by bootlickers, West faced a hate-filled nation — and the terrible loneliness of his life. Was John West a real figure? After a national uproar which rocked the very foundations of the Commonwealth, Frank Hardy was acquitted. This is the novel which provoked such intense uproar and debate across the nation.
The questions it poses remain unanswered…. Get your copy of Power Without Glory here. The Newby women are murdered and Jimmie flees, pursued by police and vigilantes. The hunt intensifies as further murders are committed, and concludes with tragic results. Get your copy of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith here.
Helen has little idea what lies ahead when she offers her spare room to an old friend of fifteen years. Nicola has arrived in the city for treatment for cancer. Sceptical of the medical establishment, placing all her faith in an alternative health centre, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice that Helen can offer. Get your copy of The Spare Room here. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.
Get your copy of The Getting of Wisdom here. To Peekay, a seven-year-old boy who dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world, this is a piece of advice that he will carry with him throughout his life. Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa.
And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice. Get your copy of The Power of One here. On a country property a man named Holland lives with his daughter Ellen. Over the years, as she grows into a beautiful young woman, he plants hundreds of different gum trees on his land.
When Ellen is nineteen her father announces his decision: she will marry the man who can name all his species of eucalypt, down to the last tree. Suitors emerge from all corners, including the formidable, straight-backed Mr Cave, world expert on the varieties of eucalypt. It is both a modern fairy tale and an unpredictable love story played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of country Australia. Get your copy of Eucalyptus here. In True History of the Kelly Gang , the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police.
To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief who was also her lover , Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged.
Get your copy of the True History of the Kelly Gang here. Joe Cashin was different once. He moved easily then; was surer and less thoughtful. For Cashin, they included a posting away from the world of Homicide to the quiet place on the coast where he grew up.
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Now all he has to do is play the country cop and walk the dogs. And sometimes think about how he was before. Then prominent local Charles Bourgoyne is bashed and left for dead. Everything seems to point to three boys from the nearby Aboriginal community; everyone seems to want it to. But Cashin is unconvinced. And as tragedy unfolds relentlessly into tragedy, he finds himself holding onto something that might be better let go. It is a work as moving as it is gripping, and one that defies the boundaries of genre. Get your copy of The Broken Shore here. In Jeannie Gunn, a Melbourne schoolteacher, went with her new husband to live on the remote Elsey cattle station near the Roper River in the Northern Territory.
Though she spent little more than a year there, her experiences in the outback and her contact with the local Aborigines impressed her deeply, and on her return to Melbourne she set down her recollections in two books, We of the Never Never and the Little Black Princess. These books have become classics of Australian literature, beloved by generations. Get your copy of We of the Never Never here. Set among the surf and sandhills of the Australian beach — and the tidal changes of three generations of the Lang family — this bestselling collection of short stories is an Australian classic.
The Bodysurfers vividly evokes the beach, with the scent of the suntan oil, the sting of the sun and a lazy sensuality, all the while hinting at a deep undercurrent of suburban malaise. From first publication, these poignant and seductive stories marked a major change in Australian literature. Get your copy of The Bodysurfers here. Liza used to say that she saw her past life as a string of roughly-graded balls, and so did Hilda have a linear conception of hers, thinking of it as a track with detours.
But for some years now I have likened mine to a globe suspended in my head, and ever since the shocking realisation that waste is irretrievalbe, I have been careful not to let this globe spin to expose the nether side on which my marriage has left its multitude of images. Nora Porteous has spent most of her life waiting to escape. Fleeing from her small-town family and then from her stifling marriage to a mean-spirited husband, Nora arrives finally in London where she creates a new life for herself as a successful dressmaker.
But Nora has been away a long time, and the people and events of her past are not at all like she remembered them. Get your copy of Tirra Lirra by the River here. Everyone has their cross to bear — their swag, their shiralee — and for Macauley, walking across New South Wales in search of work, it is his young daughter who has to suffer his resentment at having her in tow. But then, he discovers that the ties that bind can be as much a comfort as a burden, and what he thought of as his Shiralee could be the one thing that will save him from himself.
This classic Australian novel perfectly captures the spirit of the bush and the tough, resilient people of the outback. Get your copy of The Shiralee here. This astonishing range is topped and tailed by accounts of the uneasy reunion of a young Vietnamese writer in America with his ex-soldier father, and by the title story — the escape of a group of exhausted refugees from the Vietcong in a wallowing boat.
But this criminally talented year-old can do that as well. Get your copy of The Boat here. In William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand. But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself. Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals—Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring—are finding their own ways to respond to them.
Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life. Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a ground-breaking story about identity, belonging and ownership. Get your copy of The Secret River here. Treasured by readers around the world, this is the sweeping saga of three generations of the Cleary family. Stoic matriarch Fee, her devoted husband, Paddy, and their headstrong daughter, Meggie, experience joy, sadness and magnificent triumph in the cruel Australian outback.
For Meggie loves Father Ralph de Bricassart, a man who wields enormous power within the Catholic church …. As powerful, moving and unforgettable as when it originally appeared, The Thorn Birds remains a novel to be read … and read again. Get your copy of The Thorn Birds here. Arriving in Sydney just before WWII, Shannon, a dreamer and idealist takes on the world of politics, business, religion and men. At a remote ice station in Antarctica, a team of US scientists has made an amazing discovery.
They have found something buried deep within a million-year-old layer of ice. Led by the enigmatic Lieutenant Shane Schofield, a team of crack United States Marines is sent to the station to secure this discovery for their country. They are a tight unit, tough and fearless. They would follow their leader into hell. They just did. Get your copy of Ice Station here. As Voss is tested by hardship, mutiny, and betrayal during his crossing of the brutal Australian desert, Laura awaits his return in Sydney, where she endures their months of separation as if her life were a dream and Voss the only reality.
Marrying a sensitive rendering of hidden love with a stark adventure narrative, Voss is a novel of extraordinary power and virtuosity from a twentieth-century master. Get your copy of Voss here. The occasion is a piano lesson, the first of many…. Get your copy of Maestro here. Once upon a time that was called , before all fishes in the sea and all living things on the land were destroyed, there was a man named William Buelow Gould, a white convict who fell in love with a black woman and discovered too late that to love is not safe.
Silly Billy Gould, invader of Australia, liar, murderer and forger, was condemned to the most feared penal colony in the British Empire and there ordered to paint a book of fish. Praise is an utterly frank and darkly humorous novel about being young in the Australia of the s.
A time when the dole was easier to get than a job, when heroin was better known than ecstasy, and when ambition was the dirtiest of words. A time when, for two hopeless souls, sex and dependence were the only lifelines. Get your copy of Praise here. Abandoned in a big city at the onset of winter, a hungry four-year-old boy follows a stray dog to her lair. Weak and hairless, with his useless nose and blunt little teeth, Romochka is ashamed of what a poor dog he makes.
Fortunately—because one day Romochka will have to learn how to be a boy. The story of the child raised by beasts is timeless. But in Dog Boy Eva Hornung has created such a vivid and original telling, so viscerally convincing, that it becomes not just new but definitive:. Get your copy of Dog Boy here. From the sensuality of his early boyhood experiences, Porter travels ever-observantly through his Baimsdale school years to his first job as a cadet reporter.
I also wanted to shame the publishers for letting something this valuable, and loved, drop out of print. In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities that would see her sterilised or burned if discovered, it is also dangerous. There is only survival by secrecy, and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers.
But it is as if they have their own imperative, and their use inevitably brings her to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land. On the verge of her fourteenth birthday, Plum knows her life will change. But she has no idea how. Over the coming weeks, her beautiful neighbour Maureen will show her how she might fly.
Her adored older brothers will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends — her worst enemies — will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down. Get your copy of Butterfly here. He taught his son always to make up his mind, and then change it.
An impossible, brilliant, restless man, he just wanted the world to listen to him — and the trouble started when the world did. As a boy, Terry was the local sporting hero. Now that his father is dead, Jasper can try making some sense of his outrageous schemes to make the world a better place. Haunted by his own mysteriously missing mother and a strange recurring vision, Jasper has one abiding question: Is he doomed to become the lunatic who raised him, or a different kind of lunatic entirely?
Get your copy of A Fraction of the Whole here. The car is packed to capacity, and as midnight approaches, a family flees the city in a fit of panic and paranoid, conflicting emotions. The ensuing journey spans decades and offers a sharp-eyed perspective on a hardscrabble future, as a boy jettisons his family and all other ties in order to survive as a journeyman in an uncertain landscape. By turns led by love, larceny, and a new sexual order, he must avoid capture and imprisonment, starvation, pandemic, and some particularly bad weather.
Wresting his family from the easy living of nineteenth-century Sydney, Cornelius Laffey takes them to northern Queensland where thousands of hopefuls are digging for gold in the mud. They confront the horror of Aboriginal dispossession, and Cornelius is sacked for reporting the slaughter.
White Gardenia sweeps across cultures and continents, from the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai to the harshness of Cold War Soviet Russia in the s, from a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean to a new life in post-war Australia. Both mother and daughter must make sacrifices, but is the price too high?
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Most importantly of all, will they ever find each other again? Rich in incident and historical detail, this is a compelling and beautifully written tale about yearning and forgiveness. Get your copy of White Gardenia here. In this exquisite gem of a novel, Achilles is maddened by grief at the death of his friend Patroclus.
There must be a way, he thinks, of reclaiming the body — of pitting compromise against heroics, new ways against the old, and of forcing the hand of fate. Dressed simply and in a cart pulled by a mule, an old man sets off for the Greek camp …. Get your copy of Ransom here.
An outstanding literary achievement, meticulously researched and deeply felt, its portrait of the earliest days of the European settlement of Australia remains unrivalled. These were times of hardship, cruelty and danger. Above all, they were times of conflict between the Aborigines and the white settlers.
Eleanor Dark brings alive those bitter years with moments of tenderness and conciliation amid the brutality and hostility. The cast of characters includes figures historical and fictional, black and white, convict and settler. Get your copy of The Timeless Land here. A young woman pushed through the hospital doors. Staff would later say they thought the woman was a new mother, returning to her child — and in a way, she was. She walked into the nursery, where a baby girl lay sleeping.
There is CCTV footage of what happened next, and most Australians would have seen it, either on the internet or the news. The woman walked out to the car park, towards an old Corolla. For a moment, she held the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smelled her. Diamond Dove is a great fun read, a crime novel with a true larrikin spirit.
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That means it has real wit; dry, earthy and with no bullshit. Hyland has written the kind of book we need so much more of in this country. He quizzes the fraught, complex world of the outback with a critical eye but he also paints with rare clarity a picture of both black and white lives that is filled with compassion and affection. Get your copy of Diamond Dove here. Disco Boy is a novel about putting things off.
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This is a laugh out loud funny, sweet and aware novel with poignant under tones. Everyone will identify to some degree with the lives of Paul, Zoe, Nige, Simon, Flea, Lucy well maybe not Lucy as they set out on their adult lives of discovering who they are supposed to be. It is This Life in a book. Get your copy of Disco Boy here. The London season is in full fling at the end of the s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher — she of the green-grey eyes, diamant garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions — is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men.
Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops and communism — not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse — until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street. Those who are closest to him struggle to come to terms with their loss.
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Friendships are strained, marriages falter and loyalties are tested in a gripping and brilliantly crafted novel about loss, grief and desire. Told from the points of view of nine of the people who are mourning Rory, this riveting novel presents a vivid snapshot of contemporary suburban Australia and how we live now. Marriage, friendship, family-all are dissected with great psychological insight as they start to unravel under the pressure of grief.
The characters live on the page; their lives are unfolded and their dilemmas are as real as our own. Get your copy of Last Summer here. While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.
Follow John: Twitter Website. Shit is reality TV. Lost… you get the drill. I edited that from the original post but forgot to edit it from the full fifty. After I wrote it I felt I was being shortsighted. So I cut it out. My bad. On the other hand, I am glad you found it. It tells me readers are not just skimming down the list. When I finished it I was convinced I would never read anything better.
I was wrong, of course. Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony is ok. Quite obviously I have a different taste in literature than yourself Cheers Diane. OK list. These will be the biggest WA stories to hit the big screen, exciting stuff…. What about the merrygoround by the sea. A wonderful piece of literature. Any thoughts? I think Hal Porter snuck in because most considered that a novel. I love A Fortunate Life and believe everyone should read it. No Morris West book included? Shoes of the Fisherman has never been out of print and is still considered to be the pope of all papal fiction!!
It would be interesting to do a tally of some kind to see how many historical, how many about the outback etc are featured. I have a feeling Australian novelists have been accused of obsessing over human vs landscape as a theme. Which is interesting since most Australians live in cities. Echo the call for My Place. Just alerting any readers to my most recent novel which is set in Little Lon Is he writing the sequel because if it is half as good it will be brilliant.
Surpising choices for Patrick White and Peter Malouf, but on the whole a great list. How embarassing — I looked through the list again and saw that the getting of wisdom is included. Forgive my rashness! The media made it a bigger hit due to content and although the subject was a great choice, I felt the book was disappointing. Definitely not in the same league as other choices. I both loved and hated The Slap. Many acquaintances were reading it at the same time, and there was much passionate debate and argument about the issues that Tsiolkas raised, the characters attitudes and behaviours, their origins.
A great work of art is one that challenges the reader, creates unease and discomfort and this certainly did that. On an entirely different note I was delighted to see Kylie Tennant included in the Great list. I have read eleven of the entries and have three more on my shelves waiting. I will keep this list for reference, thank you for doing all that works for us. I agree, Gail Jones is fabulous. Hi Trish, I agree. I will be holding a new poll in the first days of January. Be sure to vote then. Thanks for your interest, John. Australian stories Tales From Oz. Diamond Dove — bright, breezy, dramatic and highly entertaining but surely not Top 50 material.
Postage to the UK is expensive. We cut it down to the bare minimum but we are not able to influence rates freight companies charge us. That day will come. Year of Wonders is one for example. Books by Australian writers were chosen. Australian writers have written wonderful books not set in Australia. I would not want to see them miss out being read because of that. We decided that only one book per author would be listed. Australian Contemporary Fiction - Underexposed!
I have read 21 of these. Now it is time to get a move on and try some of those I have missed. Thanks for the list. Shame on the publishers for dropping The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony, one of the best Australian books of all time. Great non-fiction book but novel!
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I have read Kal, Maralinga and Heritage. All books are a must read. If my mother had been more adventurous, I may have been an Aussie now. The Fatal Shore is missing on your list, which is a pity. You have to be kidding! Picnic at Hanging Rock as number two? The Book Thief only at number three? I love it, but thought hardly anyone else knew it.
However there is no mention that this is one that would get the Janet Evanovich fans into Australian fivtion…. Magnificent book. Also Captivity Captive by Rodney Hall? NOOK Book. I wish I had never met her. Especially now at am, when the last thing I should be doing is ceiling gazing. I wake up with my cock like stone and my dreams suffused with her scent. I wish I could identify that smell. If she smelled like citrus and I could eat an orange, maybe I could get my head clear. Clearer at least. Or straighten any of it out. She smells like summer, like sweet salt sweat and something that blooms, like the ocean and the sun.
I have only seen her in watt fluorescents and slightly waning moonlight, and I actually have no idea what the sun smells like, but I bet it smells like her. Just pulsing and hot. And so I do what I must, and take myself into my rough palm. One hand tugs while the other cups my balls, pulsing my index finger very slightly into my asshole. Jesus, what a gorgeous sensation, when she did that to me.
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The memory pushes me over and once I shoot on my chest and stomach, I pause for breath and rub the come into my skin in lazy circles, feeling momentarily less urgent but still lacking. I know the planes of my body well but feel oddly detached from my own touch, remembering how filled up my hands were when I rubbed it into her. I bring a thumb to my mouth and run my tongue over it. I had never tasted my own semen before that night, never been compelled to, but my mind is making the same lazy circles my hands were a moment ago, reminding me of when three of my fingers had been inside of her, how she brought them to her mouth and the sound she made as she sucked.
I think about how I lifted her skirt and rubbed handfuls of wet sand over her upper thighs as she shuddered too. About how by the time I poured my warm beer over the swollen satin folds of her sex and the revitalized length of my dick to rinse away the sand, by the time I was finally inside of her, we were gritty and dirty and so hot for each other that nothing else mattered.
I jack off again and fall back into restless dreams of summer sun and warm welcoming skin.