I read an article recently about how the Australian literary landscape is shifting in a good way. In October 2018, Dymocks reported nine out of the ten top selling titles were books by Aussie writers. This trend continues, with Australian novels like Boy Swallow’s Universe and The Tattooist of Auschwitz dominating the bestseller lists for months on end.
The article suggested readers are loving the Australian landscape because it’s often harsh, vast, and mysterious. As such, it’s perfect for the crime/thriller genre (and we’re selling a lot of those). But we’ve also had great books set elsewhere.
Not only are there more books than ever available by Aussie writers, many of the stories being told are distinctly Australian. This news was very good for someone who has been quietly championing her buy-Aussie-made-books initiative while touring the country in her home on wheels.
Two decades ago, I remember telling my family, “I’m going to write a book and be Australia’s Nora Roberts.” Okay, so I’m not. (Five titles on my backlist makes me about 220 novels short.) But my point is that writers today don’t aspire to be the next big (insert bestselling American author). They want to be Liane Moriaty, Jane Harper, or Markus Zusak because Aussie authors are that good!
When compared to other countries, the Australian publishing industry and readership is punching above its weight for its size. For every book we publish, there are hundreds more published overseas. Many of those titles find their way into our stores and into Aussie readers’ hands. Imagine if we all embraced Aussie alternatives before grabbing that overseas big name.
Instead of returning to a well-loved international author, ask your bookseller to recommend a home-grown writer who “writes like [insert overseas author name]”. Our country has loads of authors whose novels are just as compelling and well-written.
Booksellers, like librarians, won’t mind you asking. Together, they are more than checkout operators and purveyors of the printed word. They are the curators of our country’s creativity. You can even check out reading options by tuning into the Better Reading podcasts and book chats for new Aussie storytellers.
If you get the chance, and if you’re lucky enough to have a bookshop within cooee—I know from my travels that many small towns have no such delights—then visit a bookshop and ask for Aussie books.
Jenn J. McLeod writes from a fifth wheeler caravan as she travels Australia. Check out her website for all her books.