I've been continuing to make my way through the list of Australian books below, enjoying some more than others but all giving me an insight to either Aussie culture or standards of literature, and some very interesting dialect and vocabulary! First edition here.
10 Aussie Books to Read before you die
Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
A Fortunate Life - A.B. Facey
The Secret River - Kate Grenville
Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay
And now here are my "reviews", a couple sentences to sum up my thoughts. Good thing I'm not really a book reviewer!
Harp in the South: sad Irish immigrants live in poverty, generations continue the cycle. Dialect was interesting and sometimes challenging to comprehend, and mix of Irish and Australian. Overall this was more an Irish immigrant story, and could have been set anywhere, not necessarily inner Sydney. Something interesting to note in the "slums" that these characters live in is a lovely and very expensive area.
The Magic Pudding: Easily my favorite book so far. A children's story book written in 1918, it's from the earlier tradition of children's books that don't pander but respects their audience. Lots of rhyme and songs and very dated (but in a good way) illustrations. I can't wait to read this to my son when he's older.
The Power of One: Another Australian classic that was set elsewhere, in South Africa this time. Small boy overcomes tremendous obstacles and disadvantages to become successful. I don't know much about South Africa, having never visited, but this book was interesting enough to prompt me to look up the history of the Boer War, which is mentioned often. Our hero is too perfect, and somehow manages to defeat the Nazis, conquer racism in the prison system, and survive being crushed in a mining accident...a bit unlikely but it does make for a fun story. Despite his impossible perfection you are always cheering for him to win.
Jasper Jones: Probably the best written book of the list so far. It was exciting, compelling mystery that shows you all the dark secrets of living in a small Australian town... gossip, racism, and family life. Highly recommended.
The Slap: Published the same year as Jasper Jones (2009), this book also tried to tackle the big issues of family life in Australia but lost it's plot along the way. Every character is a token character that tried to fufil or defy their stereotype. The Greek, the Jew, the Indian, the Gay, the Muslim, the Aboriginal, the teen, the elderly, the alcoholic, the nouveau riche, the middle class guilt. They are all here in the story, and it's nothing new. Not horrible, but not really recommended either. I must say the author lacked much insight into his female characters.
Only two more to go! I won't finish them in time for my citizenship ceremony tomorrow, but I'm sure by the end of May at least. Sure beats my original goal of reading just five this year. Amazing what you can accomplish when there is a regular nap routine in the house.