23 July 2008

What a funny idea!

On her blog Susan Hill is tipping THE SPARE ROOM by Australian author Helen Garner as the next winner of the Booker Prize. She says "THE SPARE ROOM is so highly charged you need to read it, and then re-read it, to try and deal with the electricity Helen Garner generates between herself, her characters, and the reader."

But this is the bit that struck me as a bit odd. Susan writes "If you happen not to like reading novels set in Australia, do not be put off in this case - it might be set anywhere. Australia does not intrude."

It had never occurred to me that readers would be put off if a novel was set in Australia. Of course, I'm a little biased about Australia, but I don't think I have ever rejected any novel because of its setting. I thought it was Australians who felt the cultural cringe.

So I invite you to comment on a couple of things.
  1. Have you read THE SPARE ROOM? Do you agree with Susan about its Booker potential? You might like to read what she says in full, and even comment on her blog.
    I haven't read it, and I am so committed to crime fiction, that I may not ever get to it, but I am interested to hear what others have to say.

  2. How do you feel about novels set in Australia? Are you put off? If so, what don't you like about them?


Anonymous said...

Well that is a very strange comment. Susan Hill is prone to making these rather odd pronouncements. Recently she ran a post about stupid things that are on supermarket shelves which nobody in their right minds would buy. Obviously there are plenty of such things, but she kicked off with CONDITIONER. Well she should try living here (near London). If I washed either clothes or my hair without a liberal dose of conditioner, the clothes/hair would emerge as stiff as a board. She has obviously never encountered hard water.

She also has an anti-global warming campaign going on, she is convinced that it is all a scam and every time someone like Nigel Lawson or other individual says so, she highlights this on her blog with great glee, totally ignoring the scientific evidence.

So there you go. She writes a good crime novel, but I would not take her off-the-cuff verdicts on other matters with anything stronger than a smile! (Clearly she has not read Temple, Hyland, and all those adorable-sounding Aussie authors that have not been published over here yet.)

Anonymous said...

A strange comment indeed. If Britons avoid books with Australian settings, I haven't noticed it. And it's not just Peter Temple who's won British prizes for crime novels about Australia -- Caroline Carver won the CWA's debut dagger a few years ago for Blood Junction, set in the outback. And let's think: what other Aussie exports are popular? Colleen McCullough, The Road Warrior, Kath and Kim, Neighbours, Home and Away...

Of course, I may be biased. We Californians feel an affinity for your continent, over there on the opposite shore of the Pacific from us.


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