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Celebrating Australian Authors: 10 Must-Read Classic Australian Novels

Better Reading’s Director, Cheryl Akle, has been in the Australian publishing industry for over 30 years and in that time has been discovering the best Australian writers – both the best classic authors as well as emerging new talent.

Here at Better Reading, we’re all about championing Australian voices. As part of this mission, this July we’re bringing you our Celebrating Australian Authors special – reminding you of some of the best-loved Australian authors, as well as introducing brand new voices to the Australian book scene and profiling some authors you may have heard of, but would like to know a little more about.

As part of this project, we’ll be talking to the recent winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, Sofie Laguna, about her gritty novel, The Eye of the Sheep and many more Australian authors. Find out more here.

But first we’ll start with some of Cheryl’s favourite quintessentially Australian novels:

Let us know your favourites in the Comments.


  1. Bettina Wallace

    A Fortunate Life

    1. Vivienne Beddoe

      ‘A Fortunate Life’ is not a novel.

  2. Elizabeth Swan

    Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

  3. Victoria Deane

    ‘Carpentaria’ by Judith Wright

  4. Annie

    Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
    The sound of one hand clapping by Richard Flanagan

  5. Susan

    My Brilliant Career

  6. Margaret Hargrave

    Capricornia by Xavier Herbert
    The Aunt’s Story by Patrick White
    Tierra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson
    My Brilliant Career by Stella Miles Franklin
    The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel (Ethel) Richardson
    My Brother Jack by George Johnston

  7. Christy Hardy

    Bruce Courtney’s – Jessica.

  8. Better Reading Post author

    Thanks for all the great additions to the list! We love hearing from you. Look out for more favourite Australian novels from the Better Reading Team in the coming weeks.

  9. Eric Yeomans

    My top 10:
    1. Cloud street by Tim Winton
    2. The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
    3. My Brilliant Career by (Stella) Miles Franklin
    4. My Brother Jack by George Johnston
    5. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
    6. Lillian’s Story by Kate Grenville
    7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    8. Careful He Might Hear You by Summer Locke Elliott
    9. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
    10. Voss by Patrick White

  10. Nicole

    The Slap??? Really??? I don’t understand why this book keeps appearing in these lists. The language is awful and so unrealistic. People of Greek heritage must be so offended by the way they are portrayed in this book. It doesn’t come close to the other books in the list.

  11. Kristin

    My Brilliant Career

  12. Russell

    Bliss by Peter Carey
    I agree with the comment above The Slap is a poor novel and I don’t understand how it would make a top 10.

  13. Alice

    The Thorn Birds

  14. Gerry Prewett

    The Power Without the Glory by Frank Hardy should be up there. Classic.

  15. Kim

    The Missus
    A Poor Mans Orange
    The Harp in the South
    Salvation Creek

  16. Harriet

    Recent reads:
    When the Night Comes – Favel Parrett
    The Light Between the Oceans – M L Stedman

  17. Saskia

    Precious Bodily Fluids, Charles Waterstreet
    – I know it is not a novel but I love it.

  18. Lyn O'Flynn

    Come in Spinner by Dymphna Cusack

    1. Kate

      In no particular order:

      Flesh in Armour, Leonard Mann

      My Brother Jack, George Johnston

      The Plains, Gerald Murnane

      The Watch Tower, Elizabeth Harrower

      Come in Spinner, Dymphna Cusack

      The Middle Parts of Fortune, Frederic Manning

      An Imaginary Life, David Malouf

      The Year of Living Dangerously, Christopher Koch

      My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol Flynn (with Earl Conrad) – classified as fiction because almost every word is bullshit, albeit beautifully written (and extremely funny) bullshit 🙂

      Lucinda Brayford, Martin Boyd

  19. The Awesome One

    dammit this site is turning into watchmojo

  20. David H

    Patrick White, The Solid Mandala

    George Johnston, Clean Straw for Nothing

  21. Sam

    I don’t even understand how this is an issue – Tree of Man by a country mile – nothing to come out of Australia compares.

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