My Brilliant Career was written by Stella Franklin (1879-1954) when she was just nineteen years old. The novel struggled to find an Australian publisher, but was published in London and Edinburgh in 1901 after receiving an endorsement from Henry Lawson. Although Franklin wrote under the pseudonym 'Miles Franklin', Lawson’s preface makes it clear that Franklin is, as Lawson puts it 'a girl.'
The novel relates the story of Sybylla Melvyn, a strong-willed young woman of the 1890s growing up in the Goulburn area of New South Wales and longing to be a writer.
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)
'He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.
'His whole life Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done - every thought, every dream, every action - takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
'His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys - he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.
'He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.
'A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.
'Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?
'Barracuda is about living in Australia right now, about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. It's brutal and tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world. ' (Publisher's blurb)
'In the magnificent opening story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father's experiences in Vietnam - and what seems at first a satire on turning one's life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. "Cartagena" provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In "Meeting Elise" an ageing New York painter mourns his body's decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees where a young woman's bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.' (From the author's website.)
'It’s the Great Depression. Six-year-old PS is an orphan. He lives in Sydney with his Aunt Lila. But all that is about to change. Now his Aunt Vanessa has decided to take proper care of him.
'Careful, He Might Hear You is one of the most extraordinary portraits of childhood in Australian fiction.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
'Dirty Words, an A to Z index of poetry, is a restless offering; an unfolding that may begin on any page. This to-ing and fro-ing of observation is an un-binding of sorts; a mournful rage with beauty and deep love between the lines to disrupt and transcend the pain and disdain. This book is a reminder that what is (re)produced and (re)presented for general consumption, by institutions of power, is often steeped in myth-making and persistent colonial ideology. This small contemplation on nation and history is informed by blood-memory and an uncanny knowing beyond what we are officially told; a reminder of multiple lived-histories, of other ways of knowing and being in this world. Our elders and ancestors fought for the right to exist and speak up into the future – there are traces and signs, and there was always resistance. Dirty Words is my ‘note-to-self’ to speak up, to unsettle and to be brave; to not be silent when another voice would be easier or expected. There is still work to be done, and difficult conversations to have. Hidden stories can be honoured, exposed and shared, and there is always poetry.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
Brumby Innes 'begins with a corroboree and, like Coonardoo, attempts to engage with a portrayal of Aboriginal life. Its central character, Brumby Innes, is a swaggering drunk who exploits the black workers on his station and abuses the women; he bears a close resemblance to Sam Geary in Coonardoo. Yet, Brumby Innes provides the central energy of the drama, and the celebration of that energy in the play conflicts with the dramatic critique of his sexism and racism. Brumby Innes's character exemplifies the ambivalent attitude in Prichard's work toward this type of male hero. Portrayed as stereotypically masculine, such characters are admired for their energetic, vital sexuality; yet, the extreme limitations of such maleness are also acknowledged.'
Source: Bird, Delys. 'Katharine Susannah Prichard.' Australian Writers, 1915-1950. Ed. Selina Samuels. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 260.
This unit introduces students to a range of Australian fiction, poetry and drama. A detailed understanding of writing genres and forms, and of Australian literary history, will entail readings of both early and contemporary texts. Students will learn to approach literary texts through thematic and theoretical focuses, with specific attention to Indigenous writing.