Sunday, July 18, 2010

Five best Australian novels

Nicholas Jose has published short stories, essays, several acclaimed novels, and a memoir. He is Chair in Writing at the University of Western Sydney and Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University for 2009-2010. He is general editor of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature which is published internationally as The Literature of Australia.

At FiveBooks, Daisy Banks asked him about his five best Australian novels. One title they discussed:
[Banks:] You’ve chosen Peter Carey’s Bliss, which is less well known than Oscar and Lucinda.

[Jose:] Peter Carey is an endlessly inventive novelist who is still writing. I think this is his first novel and I like the way he introduces the dimension of fantasy and magical realism. It is set in the very lush rainforest of northern New South Wales, but suburbia and corporate life creep in. The main character was in advertising. You have also got all the craziness of an alternative lifestyle and breaking free and going into the rainforest. It is almost an environmental novel. The man has been through a near-death experience which is what drives him to break free from his corporate existence. And it has that magical Carey inventiveness which I really like.

So what do you think makes Carey such a great novelist?

He loves weird stories and he is not a truth-teller. He just spins on into lies and fantasy. In Oscar and Lucinda he has marvellous description of a glass church floating down a river. So for me it’s the way he allows his imagination to play and to fill the space. He is also a very elegant writer.
Read about another book on Jose's list.

--Marshal Zeringue