On January 26th, while those of us in Canada don our hats and scarves and head out to work and school and whatever else we’re up to in the latest blast of cold, wintry weather, Australians celebrate their nation’s birthday with a holiday and (invariably) a trip to the beach, or the pool, or the park.
I think Canadians naturally have a curiosity about Australia – a fellow Commonwealth country – but a country which, climatically couldn’t be more different from our own. While many Canadian readers may be familiar with some historical depictions of Australia – through, for example the 1980s classic family epic The Thorn Birds
or Peter Carey’s Booker Prize Winning novel of outback outlaw Ned Kelly, The True History of the Kelly Gang
– for this post, I wanted to focus on more modern depictions.
Curious about life in current day Australia? Dip into one of these titles and discover a country that is has much in common – and much drastically different – from our own.
A book that created a lot of buzz when it was released last year is Christos Tsiolkas
‘ The Slap
. The publisher sets the scene as “At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.
” The book won the Commonwealth Writers Prize
and several Australian book awards. It’s a thought provoking look into family and life 21st century Australian society that has many parallels to our own.
And if you’re looking for a little real life adventure, you may enjoy Thumbs Up Australia: Hitchhiking the Outback
by Tom Parry. Here in Canada, the cross-country journey is a bit of a rite of passage, in Australia it’s the round-Australia journey. Parry, a British journalist wrote this memoir of a trip he took with his girlfriend. The Daily Mirror (which is admittedly the paper that Parry works for) describes the books as a”gripping, funny and enlightening account of an 8,000-mile hitchhike around Oz
For other books by Australians and featuring Australian settings (including some historical titles) visit the library’s website Read Your Way Around the World
section on our website and click on the list for Australia.