I’ve had a draft of Australian Authors #2 in the innards of this blog for a while, but I’m scampering on to #3 because the Australian Society of Authors is tweeting that literature funding in WA is in crisis. There is a petition here, but I want to do my bit by bringing to your attention some of the cultural capital that Australia owes to WA writers, and that’s at risk because of funding cuts. I don’t know the first thing about the economics of arts funding in WA, but I do know about literary talent that brings money into an economy, and you don’t need to be an economist to know that funding is always all about choices.
The most notable WA author I know of is Elizabeth Jolley whose books fascinated a whole generation of readers. I’ve only reviewed The Sugar Mother and Miss Peabody’s Inheritance but she’s an author I re-read so there will be more to come in due course. Her biographer, Brian Dibble who wrote Doing Life hails from WA too.
Then there is Randolph Stow who wrote some of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. Many readers remember The Merry-go-round in the Sea, but there is also his Miles Franklin winning To the Islands and also the enigmatic Tourmaline.
In alphabetical order, here are some WA writers that I know of. If you haven’t read these authors, buy or borrow their books, because in a demoralising period, WA writers need your support. (Links are mostly to my reviews).
Louise Allan: not published yet, but she was shortlisted for the TA Hungerford award in 2014 and her novel is due to be published by Allen & Unwin in 2017. Louise blogs here, including a terrific series called Writers from the Attic, where you can discover more writers from WA.
From the Walmajarri people in the Great Sandy Desert, there is the superb memoir, Two Sisters from Ngarta Jukuna Bent and Jukuna Mona Chuguna with Pat Lowe and Eirlys Richards. Two Sisters is an authentic account of an ancient way of life as it was lived by sisters Ngarta and Jukuna in the Great Sandy Desert, and then it covers the period when this way of life was disrupted by the coming of Europeans into the north, and as I said in my review the same epic quality as Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington.
Bernice Barry: author of a beautiful biography about a significant botanical artist during the early settlement of WA, Georgina Molloy, the Mind that Shines.
Amanda Curtin: I discovered her work through a serendipitous find at the library: I was really impressed by The Sinkings and her follow up with Elemental is utterly unforgettable. I think another novel is on the way. Find out more at Meet an Aussie Author.
Sarah Drummond has a new book called The Sound, endorsed by no less an author than Kim Scott, but so far I’ve only read the fascinating Salt Story.
Robert Edeson wrote that brain twister The Weaver Fish.
Sally Morgan was the first indigenous author I ever read. Her memoir My Place is unforgettable. Robyn Mundy wrote the stunning novel Wildlight, and (update 21/12/16) I’ve just read an impressive debut novel called The Historian’s Daughter by Rashida Murphy.
Nathan Hobby: author of The Fur (which won the TA Hungerford in 2003 and was shortlisted for the 2004 W.A. Premier’s Award Young Adult Fiction, and is waiting patiently on my TBR). Nathan is working on a mammoth biography of Katharine Susannah Pritchard., blogging his progress at A Biographer in Perth.
Kim Scott is one of my all-time favourite authors. He is a two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Award, with his novels Benang and That Deadman Dance, which is one of the most magnificent books I’ve ever read. I’ve also read Kayang and Me which he co-wrote with Hazel Brown (and some of the bilingual books he’s written for children in the Noongar language). See more at Meet an Aussie Author.
Craig Silvey was nominated for the Miles Franklin with Jasper Jones, and Annabel Smith has three books in the marketplace and is hard at work on her next one. She is the author of A New Map of the Universe, Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and The Ark. See Meet an Aussie Author.
Then there’s Julienne Van Loon whose novel Harmless followed Bloodwood Tree and her Vogel-award-winning Road Story, and Brenda Walker: author of The Wing of Night and the memoir Reading by Moonlight. Thanks to Elisa McCune for reminding me:).
Now this is just a list of authors that (with the help of Amanda Curtin, see comments below) I’ve read and been able to identify as being from WA, and of course there are many more, including those who are writing in genres I don’t review. Still, this is an impressive list of talent, and shows you why the WA government needs to get its act together.
BTW I should also mention four publishers that I know of. The links take you to all the books I’ve reviewed for these publishers, and I think that many of these titles have WA authors too:
- Fremantle Press
- Magabala Books, an indigenous press, which produces superb picture books for children as well as YA and adult titles.
- Margaret River Press
- UWAP (the University of Western Australia Press)