Countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist: 40-31 as voted by you

Welcome to day two of the unveiling of Australia’s Favourite Novelist, as voted by you. Here’s the story so far:

50. Peter Temple
49. Jay Kristoff
48. Nikki Gemmell
47. Charlotte Wood
46. Andy Griffiths
45. Di Morrissey
44. Christina Stead
43. Christos Tsiolkas
42. Rachael Treasure
41. Morris Gleitzman

Don’t forget to pencil in January 25th as a big day on the calender as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend in style with the announcement of Australia’s top 10 Favourite Novelists, as well as the launch of our Australian Stories Initiative. There will also be loads of discounts and freebies on offer for the weekend.

But here we are. The countdown continues, 40-31 as voted by you.


40. Fleur Mcdonald

Fleur McDonald grew up in Orrorroo, South Australia but completed her secondary education in Adelaide.

After school she spent a couple of years jillarooing in South Australia and Western Australia.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Fleur lives with her husband and two children on a station near Esperance in Western Australia. She is highly involved in the daily management of their 8000 acres.

She is the author of the bestselling novels Red Dust, Blue Skies and Purple Roads.

Click here to go to Fleur Mcdonald’s author page


39. Jackie French

Jackie French’s writing career spans sixteen years, 42 wombats, 120 books for kids and adults, translations into nineteen languages, and slightly more awards than wombats, both in Australia and overseas.

Our Pick

Her books range from provocative historical fiction such as Hitler’s Daughter and They Came on Viking Ships to the hilarious international bestseller, Diary of a Wombat with Bruce Whatley, as well as many nonfiction titles such as The Fascinating History of Your Lunch, and To the Moon and Back (with Bryan Sullivan), the history of Australia’s Honeysuckle Creek and man’s journey to the moon.

In 2000, Hitler’s Daughter was awarded the CBC Younger Readers’ Award. To the Moon and Back won the Eve Pownall Award in 2005. Macbeth and Son, and Josephine Wants to Dance were both shortlisted for the 2007 CBC Awards.

Click here to go to Jackie French’s author page


38. Colin Thiele

Colin Milton Thiele (1920 –  2006) was renowned for his award-winning children’s fiction, most notably the novels Storm Boy, Blue Fin, the Sun on the Stubble series, and February Dragon.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Thiele wrote more than 100 books, which often described life in rural Australia, particularly the Eudunda, Barossa Valley, and Murray River/Coorong regions of South Australia. Several of his books have been made into films or television series.

In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, the second highest level of the order, for his services to literature and education.

Click here to go to Colin Thiele’s author page


37. Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough was born in western New South Wales in 1937. A neuroscientist by training, she worked in various Sydney and English hospitals before settling into ten years of research and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in the USA.

Our Pick

Our Pick

In 1974 her first novel, Tim, was published in New York, followed by the bestselling The Thorn Birds in 1977 and a string of successful novels, including the acclaimed Masters of Rome series.

In 1980 she settled in Norfolk Island, where she lives with her husband, Ric Robinson, and a cat named Shady.

Click here to go to Colleen McCullough’s author page


36. Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth.

She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance.

Our Pick

Our Pick

She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has followed on from its success with two more novels Heart of Gold and The Road Home.

Click here to go to Fiona Palmer’s author page


35. Patrick White

Patrick White was born in England in 1912 and taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England and served in the RAF, before returning to Australia after World War II.

Happy Valley, White’s first novel, is set in a small country town in the Snowy Mountains and is based on his experiences in the early 1930s as a jackaroo at Bolaro, near Adaminaby in south-eastern New South Wales.

Our Pick

White went on to publish twelve further novels (one posthumously), three short-story collections and eight plays. His novels include The Aunt’s Story and Voss, which won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award, The Eye of the Storm and The Twyborn Affair.

He was the first Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1973, and is considered one of the foremost novelists of the twentieth century.

Click here to go to Patrick White’s author page


34. David Malouf

David Malouf is the author of ten novels and six volumes of poetry.

His novel The Great World was awarded both the prestigious Commonwealth Prize and the Prix Femina Estranger. Remembering Babylon was short-listed for the Booker Prize.

Our Pick

He has also received the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008

He has lived in England and Tuscany however for the past three decades most of his time has been spent in Sydney.

Click here to go to David Malouf’s author page


33. Tara Moss

Tara Moss is the author of the bestselling crime novels Fetish, Split, Covet, Hit and Siren. Her novels have been published in seventeen countries in eleven languages, and have earned critical acclaim around the world.

Her non-fiction writing has appeared in The Australian Literary Review, Vogue, ELLE, The Australian Women’s Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, among other publications.

Our Pick

Moss hosted Natgeo Presents and the international crime documentary series Tara Moss Investigates on the National Geographic Channel, and has participated as a guest and panelist on numerous popular TV programs. She has also conducted hundreds of talks at literary festivals, schools, universities and corporate events.

Click here to go to Tara Moss’ author page


32. Paul Jennings

The Paul Jennings phenomenon began with the publication of Unreal! in 1985. Since then, readers all around the world have devoured his books.

Paul Jennings has written over one hundred stories and has been voted ‘favourite author’ over forty times by children in Australia, winning every children’s choice award.

Our Pick

The top-rating TV series Round the Twist and Driven Crazy are based on a selection of his enormously popular short-story collections such as Unseen! which was awarded the 1999 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Children’s Book.

In 1995 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to children’s literature and was awarded the prestigious Dromkeen Medal in 2001. Paul has sold more than 8 million books worldwide.

Click here to go to Paul Jenning’s author page


31. Thomas Keneally

Keneally was known as “Mick” until 1964 but began using the name Thomas when he started publishing, after advice from his publisher to use what was really his first name. He is most famous for his Schindler’s Ark (later republished as Schindler’s List), which won the Booker Prize and is the basis of the film Schindler’s List.

Our Pick

Many of his novels are reworkings of historical material, although modern in their psychology and style.

In 1983 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In March 2009, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, gave an autographed copy of Keneally’s biography Lincoln to President Barack Obama as a state gift.

Click here to go to Thomas Keneally’s author page


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow at midday as we continue to countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

Rosalie Ham, author of There Should be More Dancing, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rosalie Ham

author of  There Should be More Dancing, Summer at Mount Hope and The Dressmaker

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born and raised Jerilderie, NSW. Started my school life at Jerilderie Public, then for 2 years rode the bus 70 k’s a day to and from the nearest High School (Finley). For my final school years I left the vast plains and flat horizons for the rolling hills of Berwick, and St Margaret’s.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I was cast in the school play and had a startlingly positive response to the applause. Consequently, I believed I was a brilliant actress, and this was confirmed for me when, aged ten, my father finally purchased a television and I saw my brilliance reflected in the heroines battling their tragedies of triumph and terror against treacherous backdrops in the Midday Movies. Television was denied us at boarding school, but there were books full of drama and light, and another school play.

At eighteen I still wanted to be an actress but I had to become a nurse because my father told me I needed to ‘get a ticket in life.’ Nursing’s basically the same things as acting anyway. Then I encountered real-life treachery and tragedy in the form of my first broken heart, but I found I wasn’t cut out to be a triumphant heroine, and fled overseas. Upon my (eventual) return I enrolled in drama school.

Consequently, at thirty I wanted to be a writer because four years at drama school taught me I didn’t have the voice, face, talent or ambitious ruthlessness required to become an actress, but I maintained a yearning for the triumph, tragedy and terror of story.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I strongly believed I was having a good time if I drank, smoked and sang loudly into empty beer bottles. I no longer believe that.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

There was never much art in Jerilderie but there was the struggle between life and death on the family farm, and there was a library. I remember The Bafut Beagles as being an exotic, informative and very engaging read when I was about thirteen.

And I saw great pathos in Cezanne’s landscapes. It looked to me as if he’d put a huge amount of sincere effort into them, yet they still seemed not quite finished.

Rural community activities – agricultural shows, football grand finals and ANZAC day marches – mean that even today, brass marching bands induce in me a swelling heart and tears of joy. But it was the extremes in my early childhood years, the proximity of the (sometimes cruel) life cycle, the desperation of back-lane cricket and the nefariousness of local adulterers that fed my yen for narrative. I passed a lot of time in the limitless, empty outdoors and I had to amuse myself, and all of these things fuelled my play-acting and the dramas I had going on in my imagination at any given time.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Timing and opportunity. The story was there, I had the time, and out it came.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel… There Should be More Dancing

My third novel is about the near triumph of Margery Blandon. She’s lived in Brunswick for 60 years and has a passion for cross-stitch, proverbs and her long-dead sister. Her eldest son is affably brain-damaged, her second son is a criminal and her daughter has weight problems that exacerbate her failing life. Margery’s neighbours are drug dealers and Margery herself might or might not be a murderess. Her life-long enemy – now demented – is the holder of the truth about everything. But Margery does have friends. Unfortunately, Margery doesn’t notice any of these things until it’s almost too late.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s synopsis -

Margery Blandon has led a life of principles. Now she finds herself sitting on the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel, preparing to throw herself to her death.

Margery Blandon was always a principled woman who found guidance from the wisdom of desktop calendars. She lived quietly in Gold Street, Brunswick for sixty years until events drove her to the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel. As she waits for the crowds in the atrium far below to disperse, she contemplates what went wrong; her best friend kept an astonishing secret from her and she can’t trust the home help. It¹s possible her firstborn son has betrayed her, that her second son, Morris, might have committed a crime, her only daughter is trying to kill her and her dead sister Cecily helped her to this, her final downfall. Even worse, it seems Margery¹s life-long neighbour and enemy ­ now demented ­ always knew the truth.

There Should be More Dancing is a story of Margery’s reckonings on loyalty, grief and love.)

Click here to order your copy.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I don’t mind, as long as they take something.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire a lot of writers, but not all of their books. But I will read anything David Malouf writes, anything Cormac McCarthy writes and everything Marilynne Robinson writes.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I’d like to be able to go on publishing a novel every three to five years until I can’t type any more.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Lots of similes don’t necessarily make to good writing.

Rosalie, thank you for playing.

Finalists announced for The Man Booker International 2011

News from The Man Booker Prize website:

Thirteen writers have made it on to the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the fourth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.

The authors come from eight countries, five are published in translation and there are four women on the list. One writer has previously won the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction and two have been shortlisted. Famously, another, John le Carré, asked that his books should not be submitted for the annual prize to give less established authors the opportunity to win.

The Finalists’ List is announced by the chair of judges, Rick Gekoski, at a press conference held at the University of Sydney, today Wednesday 30 March 2011 at 10.00 (EST).

The thirteen authors on the list are:

Wang Anyi (China)

Juan Goytisolo (Spain)

James Kelman (UK)

John le Carré (UK)

Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)

David Malouf (Australia)

Dacia Maraini (Italy)

Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)

Philip Pullman (UK)

Marilynne Robinson (USA)

Philip Roth (USA)

Su Tong (China)

Anne Tyler (USA)

The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2011 consists of writer, academic and rare-book dealer Dr. Rick Gekoski (Chair), publisher, writer and critic Carmen Callil, and award-winning novelist Justin Cartwright.

Announcing the list, Rick Gekoski comments:

‘The 2011 List of Finalists honours thirteen great writers from around the world. It is, we think, diverse, fresh and thought-provoking, and serves to remind us anew of the importance of fiction in defining both ourselves and the world in which we live. Each of these writers is a delight, and any of them would make a worthy winner.’

The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. Alice Munro won in 2009, Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Ismail Kadaré the inaugural prize in 2005. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000.

The Man Booker International Prize winner will be announced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on 18 May and the winner will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on 28 June 2011.

——————————————-

UPDATE: from The Guardian

John le Carré has eyes off Booker prize

Veteran spy novelist John le Carré has asked to be removed from the list of nominees for a leading literary award.

John le Carré, who was unveiled as one of 12 writers in the running for the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize, said he was “enormously flattered” by the nomination, but did not compete for literary prizes.

The list, which also includes Philip Pullman and Scottish novelist James Kelman, was announced in Sydney.

Following the announcement, in a statement released by his literary agents Curtis Brown, John le Carré said: “I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However, I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.” FULL story here

13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro

When pre-publication copies of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society were passed around a couple of years ago, it was obvious that the book was going to be a hand-sell sensation. And so it proved to be with a great many editions of this lovely war-time confection going on to sell squillions.

13 rue Thérèse has the same feel. Coming for a February release, this book is being presented as a lovely hardback edition. Told as a series of letters and reminiscences, and peppered with illustrations, scraps of sheet music, fading photos, this is a ostensibly a love story, set in the first half of the twentieth century. Build as a story of  “passion, memory and the seductive power of the imagination”, it certainly fulfills the publisher’s spin – it is sophisticated, imaginative, sexy and escapist. A grown-up treat.

David Ebershoff, bestselling author of The 19th Wife, writes that “this is a puzzle-novel and gave me the same fizzy satsifaction as completing a Sunday crossword. It will light up your brain, and your heart”.

All true – 13 rue Thérèse is a most satisfying read. However, to me, these descriptions ignore two really important aspects and to a certain extent, undermine the power of this remarkable novel. Like Flaubert’s Madame Bovary more than a century earlier, and Alex Miller’s very fine LoveSong of last year, Shapiro writes with enormous insight about the confusion between a woman’s desire for a child and her desire for a man. At the same time, her descriptions of the horror of the trenches during World War 1, and the lifetime legacy for those who survived, put me in mind of the extremely powerful Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks as well as parts of Louis de Bernières Birds Without Wings and David Malouf’s The Great World. Indeed, 13 rue Thérèse is so much more than a cleverly constructed love story. Continue reading

The 50 Must Read Australian Novels (50 to 41) (The Popular Vote 2010)

A while ago now, whilst playing… ahem… doing important and vital Booktopia business on twitter and facebook, I decided to ask Booktopia’s followers and friends what they thought were the ‘must read’ Australian novels.

Many disparage twitter and facebook by suggesting that it is both frivolous and time wasting (I being of their number some few short months ago). Whereas I cannot defend twitter and facebook against these charges, I can say, of those who read the drivel I put out there (tweet), the vast majority are extraordinarily well read (some, frighteningly so).

(Granted, I am the voice of the best online book shop in the universe, Booktopia, and not the voice of a company that makes protein shakes for muscle bound freaks, so finding readers following Booktopia shouldn’t be a surprise, but even so… )

However, we can be proud of something – we’re not wasting ordinary lives on twitter and facebook we are squandering the best minds in Australia!

That’s who created this list, the wonderful and entertaining wasters of life and intellect who happen to follow Booktopia on twitter and facebook. And I am thankful they did because the list is a very fine list.

So, thank you all for taking the time to, first, recommend such wonderful books and, second, take the time to vote in droves, helping me to whittle down the list to a manageable 50 Must Read Australian Novels.

As you’ll see, Australia’s literature is rich and varied and some of it is even in print.

Here are…

The 50 Must Read Australian Novels

This first instalment counts down from 50 to 41 (please note the inclusion of some of my favourite ‘tweeps’ – @kylie_ladd – @domknight@overingtonc Yay! Clap, clap, clap!) (Full List of 50 Must Read Australian Novels now available – click here)


last-summer50. Last Summer

Kylie Ladd (@kylie_ladd)

Rory Buchanan has it all: looks, talent, charisma-an all around good-guy, he’s the centre of every party and a loving father and husband. Then one summer’s afternoon, tragedy strikes. Those who are closest to him struggle to come to terms with their loss. 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.


978174114566349. Cocaine Blues: A Phryne Fisher Mystery

Kerry Greenwood

The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, 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. Continue reading

Eleven by Mark Watson

The problem with reading a really good book, a book that absolutely hits the mark, is that there is no where to go afterwards. What do you do when that book that has been with you for days, no weeks, finally releases you and you return reluctantly to the real world. Some books are so good that the pain of the parting almost overwhelms the joy of the reading.

Case in point – A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Said at the time of its publication to be the longest book written in the English language, I started it in the winter of 1993, a week or two after the birth of my daughter. It became my official breastfeeding book. It was my own version of The Cook, The Thief, The Wife and The Lover or in my case, The Couch, The Pillow, The Book and The Baby. In fact, the book and the baby weighed about the same and I simply alternated them from side to side, propping both up on the pillow. I was so devastated when I finally finished A Suitable Boy that I considered giving the breastfeeding away. I worried about the characters for months while I was wandering the fiction wasteland and there I remained until I discovered Conversations at Curlow Creek by David Malouf, but that is Continue reading

Bryce Courtenay

Once the madness of Christmas Day is over (I know it seems a long way away right now but it will all pass, trust me) you’ll need some quiet time to recover.

Now is the time to make preparations.

The men in your life, whether they be lover, husband, father or brother, will probably stretch themselves out on the couch and watch every boring minute of the Boxing Day test match.

Do not despair – help is near.

First things first – you’ll need a drink.

Then you’ll need to find a comfy spot to sit. You’ll want it to be far enough from the TV so that you are not disturbed by the incessant pock of the cricket ball, intermittent male grunts of joy or despair or the incessant droning of the dullards commentating and yet close enough to the boys, hopefully still in their peripheral vision, to be an ever-present visual complaint for being so grievously neglected.

Now that that’s done, you’ll need something to read.

If your pre-Christmas week has been unrelieved hell we recommend you reach for belly laughs or bloody murder.

You’ll need something strong to put out of your head the sound and images of screaming children running riot around the fine china department of David Jones or the haughty look the sales girl gave you when you’d discovered you’d left your purse in the shopping trolley at Woolies or the pathetic smile your husband wore on Christmas morning when handing you the poorly wrapped ironing board….

Whatever you doFor belly laughs you’ll need :

Marian Keyes, Ben Elton, Katie Fforde, Peter Allison, Jill Mansell.

The Private Patient And for bloody murder:

PD James, Nicci French, Kathy Reichs, Henning Mankell, Peter Robinson.

But if your Christmas was a great success – if the turkey was tender and moist, if the family did their best Brady Bunch impression, if the little box under the tree with your name on it contained what you hoped it would contain, if peace reigned supreme and love was all around… then you may like to celebrate with juicy saga, strong drama or a heart warming yarn.

lessons in hearbreakTry one of these authors…

Maeve Binchy, Di Morrissey, Erica James, Penny Vincenzi

Bryce Courtenay, Judy Nunn, Cathy Kelly

Or something a bit different Alex Miller, David Malouf, Muriel Barbery

And last but not least, a small selection of books for those who do not celebrate Christmas and who do not like Cricket, those who cannot be classed as Bah Humbugs because they are of a different faith, or are indifferent, or have integrity, but nonetheless are forced by Governmental decree to do nothing for two days in a row…

Being and NothingnessBeyond Good and EvilPhilosophy of the Boudoir

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