Good morning and Happy Australia Day all. I can’t promise my enthusiasm or commitment to this day will go any further than this greeting but it’s something. Since we are nationally celebrating all things Australian, and it is the talking point of the week, I have been thinking.
There was a question raised on Booktopia’s Facebook page on the 11th of this month about whether an Australian author must set their novel in Australia to be considered an Australian Classic. I have been trying to think whether it has to or not and have come to the conclusion that I don’t think so. Very inconclusive I agree, but I keep thinking about novels like the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Dune where the story is set in worlds that are not our own. I cannot see any one claiming that Dune is not a classic science fiction novel, yet it isn’t set in a place we know. So really it is a classic novel by a classic American author perhaps, rather than an American classic. Hmm. So based on that, surely an Australian can write a classic story that is not set in Australia. Besides, where else can you place these things. Winton has WA covered, Tsiolkas and an array of others have Melbourne covered, and I have read plenty about Sydney and even Newcastle. Why can’t we branch out? I say the challenge is now to write an Australian classic, by an Australian set in another country, or better yet set it on Clom, they have their own Disneyland for goodness sake, there’s a story right there.
Though as I write this I do know full well there are books by Australians not set in Australia that are beloved and considered classics by those who have read them. If I actually sat and thought about it instead of rattling off early morning thoughts I could list some myself. Instead I offer this option: maybe just the fact it is by an Australia we can bend it towards the ‘classic novel by an Australian’ category. And then once the author has built up their status we can refer to them as a ‘classic Australian author’ to balance things out. A well thought out dilemma there Booktopia folks and folkettes.
In other news, also concerning Booktopia as it were, are the just released Top 50 Australian novelists. I did say these big number lists were reserved for things like author rankings. There was a vote issued to all the readers and this is what they have decided. The 50-11 spots were released here on the 24th and the top ten and coveted number one spot was released on the 25th here. I am very pleased with where some of the names fell, and some I am certainly not surprised by. It has of course added more names to my list of to be read books though. I can’t even complain about getting this list down one day because it means I have ran out of things I want to read. Now that’s a scary thought!
I hope the rest of you enjoy your Australia Day, or your January 26th is a particular nice one wherever you are. Behave yourselves and read something spectacular.