An American genea-mate asked me for recommendations of fictional books set in Australia as a way of getting to know a bit more about Australia, and I guess her people. This is my list of possible options though of course one could go on adding books indefinitely. Also a lot depends on whether the focus is to be modern life, or a story in an historical setting, as well as personal style preferences.
Mary Durack: Kings in Grass Castles (An older story, largely fact, though not entirely accurate in places due to family bias. A good yarn telling the story of an Irish family in the 1850s+. They became a family dynasty in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.)
Bill Bryson: Down Under (may be called In a Sunburned Country , or possibly Walkabout, in the US). Hilarious essays on Australia. I could really relate to some of his comments on Darwin.
Kate Grenville: The Secret River (a fictional story, based on some historical fact, about life north of Sydney in the early days). Issues of convicts, colonisation, and relationships with Indigenous people.
Sally Morgan: My Place (an indigenous life story)
Sally Dingo: Dingo, the Story of our Mob (a biography of Ernie Dingo, a well-known Indigenous actor.
Tom (Thomas) Keneally: A River Town (long time since I’ve read this one but I enjoyed it enough to keep on my shelves. Set in New South Wales.)
Henry Lawson: various short stories and poetry, about the old days in Australia
Hilary Lindsay: The Washerwoman’s Dream (set in Queensland late 1880s+)
Tim Winton: Dirt Music (a modern story set in Western Australia). Not one of my favourite books, didn’t like the ending, but I admired the fact that he started again from scratch with hundreds of pages written.
Neville Shute: A Town like Alice (includes WW2 theme and Northern Territory).
Addendum: David Forrest’s The Last Blue Sea (about the Australians’ war in Papua New Guinea, WWII)
David Malouf, Peter Carey, Thea Astley, Janette Turner Hospital (short stories) are all other authors who would provide a more modern insight into Australia today.
I have used LibraryThing to link these book titles to reviews which may help find out more about each book, and see which appeals. Everyone’s taste is quite different in books. I’m not sure how difficult these books will be to access from bookshops or libraries in the States, but at a quick glance many are available as Kindle e-books.
What recommendations would other Australian geneabloggers want to add to this list? Please do add suggestions in the comments. I’m looking forward to seeing some different perspectives and reminders of ones I’m bound to have forgotten.