RICHARD CRABTREE REVIEWS THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN NOVEL
The Great Australian Novel: A Panorama by Jean-François Vernay (Brolga, 288pp, $24.99) is a jolly romp through the fiction fields of Australia.
Originally designed for French readers, it is now translated for the Australian public by Marie Ramsland.
Aimed at a popular rather than academic audience, it is less a work of scholarly research than a reflection of current fashions.
Inevitably, and certainly unfortunately, some major writers now out of fashion are not mentioned – like that sadly neglected great novelist James Aldridge.
Of the brilliant contemporary comic novelist Morris Lurie we are told only that his parents were Polish.
As well as the on-going text there are feature pages that select various figures for special attention, offering a reflection of Gallic taste or contemporary modishness that may not be to everyone’s satisfaction.
Jean-François Vernay is a Franco-Australian essayist with a lifelong love of Australian writing. He was the founding editor of Correspondances Oceaniennes, a half-yearly Noumea-based cultural journal and he has published articles and reviews of Australian literature in French and English.
In 2009, Vernay received an Excellence Award from the These Pac jury (le prix These-Pac, Prix Jean-Pierre Piérard) in the South Pacific-Australasia category for his PhD on Koch
Water From the Moon: Illusion and Reality in the Works of Australian Novelist Christopher Koch. (New York: Cambria Press, 2007)
The Great Australian Novel – A Panorama (Melbourne: Brolga, 2010) has a foreword by Nicholas Jose.
Published by Irina Dunn on 14 September 2011.
Please note that some of James Aldridge's novels are indeed discussed in my book on page 74.