Books are a wonderful snapshot of our daily lives, and give us a better understanding of what goes on around us. In this list, we’ve taken a look at a few of our favourite novels set in Australia. Whether it be the country or city, past or present day, here are some of the books that we feel perfectly capture an aspect of Australian life.
This whole list could probably be made up of Tim Winton books, and it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Breath is a beautiful book, and managed to encapsulate coastal life perfectly. ‘An absorbing, powerful and deeply beautiful novel, a meditation on surfing which becomes a rumination about the very stuff of existence.’ – Philip Hensher, Spectator.
Liane Moriaty’s books describe Australian suburbia perfectly, and What Alice Forgot is no exception. This is the story of Alice who wakes up and realises she’s lost ten years of her life – she’s no longer pregnant with her first child (she now has three) and her husband seems to hate her. Where did it all go wrong?
The Rules of Backyard Cricket opens with Darren in the boot of a car – gagged, cable-tied and with a bullet in his knee. What follows is him looking back, to two brothers growing up in a suburban backyard and obsessed with cricket. Both grow up to be cricket stars; one a celebrity bad-boy, and the other the Australian captain. This is a story of endless childhood summers and unforgiving cricket pitches, a novel of gripping suspense.
Thirteen year old Charlie Bucktin is asleep when he’s started by an urgent knock. His visitor is Jasper Jones, a mixed-race, rebellious outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. What follows is a heartbreaking and funny story of outsiders and secrets and what it really means to be a hero, depicting racial tensions in rural Australian in 1965. Read it before the film comes out!
Air Kisses by Zoe Foster Blake is kind of an Australian Devil Wears Prada. Hannah is the world’s most unlikely beauty editor and is very unexpectedly dumped for the local TV weather girl, so she develops some rules for living the Perfect Life. A sweet and funny book, providing insight into the world of magazines, PR launches and a world where blended eyeshadow very much matters.
Goodwood is a delightful debut novel from musician and songwriter, Holly Throsby. “It wasn’t just one person who went missing, it was two people. Two very different people. They were there, and then they were gone, as if through a crack in the sky.” A tale of secrets and obsessions, and a perfect characterisation of an Australian small town.
In The Birdman’s Wife a naïve young girl who falls in love with an ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to the colonies to discover Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife. This is an exquisite reimaging of the untold story of Elizabeth Gould, and will give you a new appreciation for the Australian wild.
Miles Franklin award winner Questions of Travel shows Sydney and Australia through the eyes of a Sri Lankan refugee, while highlighting Australia’s struggle to understand the concept of refugees and their travel to our shores. A compassionate and deeply moving novel.
Tomorrow When the War Began is the book that began the series that became the legend. A group of teenagers are out camping in the bush when Australia is invaded by an unknown enemy. They have no weapons or training, but they decide to fight an army. A kind of Australian Hunger Games, but much more real. Definitely not just for teenagers.
The Windy Season takes us to the crayfish boats of a West Australian town. Elliot has gone missing, and the only person that seems to care is his younger brother Paul. Fierce, evocative and memorable, this is a story set within an often wild and unforgiving Australian sea, where mysterious influences are brought to bear on the inhospitable town and its residents.
The Dangers of Truffle Hunting is a delightful sexy story set in Australian wine country. Kit has her life all sensibly mapped out… until she meets someone new. He turns her world upside down, exposing her to the passion of love, food and wine. Best enjoyed with a glass of your favourite drop!
One of the bestsellers of last year was The Dry, and it’s a masterpiece of a novel. Set in Kiewarra during a drought, a woman and child are dead, and then a man has turned the gun on himself. A community tries to deal with the tragedy, while long buried secrets are revealed. You’ll almost be able to feel the heat, taste the dust and see the parched land… an author we can’t wait to see more from.