2014 was a huge year for Australian authors. There seems no better time, January being our month of Australian Stories, to reflect on my favourite Australian authors of 2014.
So many Australian authors had career defining years in 2014, but these are a few that made a huge impact with their work both on and off the page.
Confused about the concept? So am I, but we’ll get there.
I’ve bored everyone with my constant proclamations that Sonya Hartnett’s Golden Boys was the best novel of 2014. It’s an amazing book that we’ll be hearing more about as the awards season heats up. Hartnett also gave us The Wild One, teaming up with Lucia Masciullo to produce of the most beautiful picture books of the year.
She was also the subject of a wonderful piece by Stephen Romei in The Australian, where she gave the best quote about childhood I’ve heard for a long time. ‘‘Children live in a very animal world, one that’s constantly on the verge of war. You look at childhood and think, how do any of us survive that sort of shit?’
Not content with producing Foreign Soil, one of the most exciting short story collections of the last few years, Maxine Beneba Clarke was called upon to be the voice of many defining moments of 2014.
From her pitch perfect portrait of the late Matt Richell to the dignified protest to Tony Abbott at this year’s Australian Book Industry Awards, Maxine had an incredible, inspiring 2014.
Foreign Soil was a standout, and her highly anticipated 2015 book The Hate Race promises to be even better.
Okay, okay, I know Richard Flanagan didn’t release a book in 2014, but he still had a pretty solid year, no? His 2013 novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North narrowly missed out on the Miles Franklin, before winning the first truly international Man Booker and sweeping into Australia to not just win a Prime Minister’s Literary Award, but also give his prize money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, one of the most important charities around.
He also gave a performance on Q&A during the Sydney Writer’s Festival that elicited a 11pm phone call from my mother to discuss what a genius he is.
Last but not least, Flanagan had this to say on the subject of giving money to important causes. ‘Money is like shit, my father used say. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and you can grow things.’
Sometimes you read a book and you lose sleep hoping that everyone else realises how good it is. Omar Musa’s Here Come the Dogs was that book, and while it should have been talked about more, those who read it couldn’t stop singing its praises.
2014 saw Omar Musa emerge as one of Australia’s most important voices, speaking with passion on issues like immigration, sexuality and violence. He speaks, and writes, with a firm, eloquent authority we can all learn from. Already an accomplished spoken work performer, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Musa in 2015.
Being a novelist is a romantic profession. Millions try, and millions fail. It’s a tough job. So what inspires people to want to be writers?
Stories like Brooke Davis’, and her journey to becoming one of Australia’s bestselling authors of 2014.
Embarking upon her novel Lost and Found as part of a PhD and a form of catharsis after the death of her mother, Davis spent five years writing it, combining teaching with working part-time at a Perth bookshop (shout out to Beaufort Street Books).
The novel was a hit at the year’s London Book Fair, rights being sold into 25 countries and translated into 20 languages for its overseas release. She also showed off her acting chops in some re-enactments on Australian Story.
That’s a pretty handy year. And just in case you weren’t sure, Lost and Found is a wonderful, emotional read, even better than the story behind it. Nice year Brooke.
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About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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