Authors share their favourite fictional visions of Australia
After Australia is a vital anthology that presents 12 visions of Australia’s future from 12 exciting First Nations writers and writers of colour. We asked some of the book’s contributors to share their picks for Australian spec fic readers, and also reflect on their own favourites fictional visions of Australia.
What are some of the most memorable visions of Australia you’ve discovered in fiction books?
“ Tomorrow, When the War Began was a big one growing up, in no small part because it was one of the first Australian books I encountered that had a leading Asian Australian character. The Messenger by Markus Zusak showed me adult suburban Australia. Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett and Laurinda by Alice Pung showed me teenage suburban Australia. Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko showed me stunning regional Australia. And this is a cheat because it’s non-fiction, but Monica Tan’s memoir Stranger Country is an eye-opening account of someone reckoning with their identity as a settler on stolen Aboriginal land.” – Michelle Law
“One writer who I really like is Tony Birch. His short stories are brilliant, but it’s his novels Blood and The White Girl, that I keep on returning to. His most recent novel, The White Girl, is set some time in the mid-century past and is about a grandmother who tries her hardest to keep the child in her care, her granddaughter, safe. We come to know Odette Brown and her granddaughter Sissy and their story – set in a very real time of forced child removals and state-sanctioned violence against Indigenous families and children – is one that continues in one form or another to this day. It’s a memorable book, and one that I find compelling and rewarding.” – Khalid Warsame
What are you best recommendations for Australian spec fic readers?
“Most of my spec fic recommendations are fantasy-focused because I love the genre. Locally, you can’t go past a Margo Lanagan book. Tender Morsels is still one of my favourite books – I kept gasping aloud as I read it. Jeremy Lachlan’s middle reader series, The Jane Doe Chronicles, is so wonderful and made me tear up. Internationally I loved The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín, and the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman are my all-time favourite books – although the latest Book of Dust book was a huge disappointment. On my to-read list, I’ve got The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman and The Power by Naomi Alderman.” – Michelle Law
“Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nullius and The Old Lie, and Lisa Fuller’s Ghost Bird. These are different books from different Aboriginal writers, but among the things they have in common (other than being completely loved by me) is a sharp incisiveness; a profound emotional impact; and a visceral sense of place.” – Ambelin Kwaymullina
“I feel that Claire G. Coleman has been writing some of the most interesting Australian spec fic for a while, and her new book The Old Lie is great. Any book that starts off with an intergalactic war is my kind of thing, and it’s such a daring and fun read. Claiming T-Mo by African Australian author Eugen Bacon is great as well, metaphysically dense and rich in detail and world building. I don’t think there’s any book quite like it that I can think of in Australia and would be of interest to spec fic readers.” – Khalid Warsame