My Australian Women Writers Challenge wrap-up

This was the first year I did the Australian Women Writers challenge. I set out to achieve ‘Franklin’ level – 10 books read and six of them reviewed. I ended up reading 39 books and reviewing 30 of them (though most of my reviews are only a paragraph or two: I’m no reviewer). I had no trouble finding interesting books to read, and there were many, many more I would have liked to get through.

The books I read were (in chronological order – asterisks are books I borrowed from the library):

  • The Watch Tower, by Elizabeth Harrower
  • The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, by Tracy Farr
  • In Her Blood, by Annie Hauxwell*
  • Tarcutta Wake, by Josephine Rowe
  • Animal People, by Charlotte Wood*
  • Rupetta, by Nike Sulway
  • In-human, by Anna Dusk
  • The Getting of Wisdom, by Henry Handel Richardson*
  • One Foot Wrong, by Sofie Laguna
  • Sea Hearts, by Margo Langan*
  • Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan*
  • Caution: Contains Small Parts, by Kirstyn McDermott
  • Holiday in Cambodia by Laura Jean McKay
  • Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
  • My Beautiful Enemy, by Cory Taylor*
  • Above/Below, by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek
  • Elemental, by Amanda Curtin*
  • Anguli Ma, by Chi Vu*
  • The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane*
  • Captives, by Angela Meyer
  • The Great Unknown, edited by Angela Meyer
  • Gone, by Jennifer Mills
  • Pursuing Love and Death, by Heather Taylor Johnson*
  • When we Have Wings, by Claire Corbett*
  • After Darkness, by Christine Piper*
  • The Wonders, by Paddy O’Reilly
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Ambelin Kwaymullina*
  • Gilgamesh, by Joan London*
  • The Ark, by Annabel Smith
  • Cracking the Spine, edited by Julie Chevalier
  • The Neighbour, by Julie Proudfoot
  • Through Splintered Walls, by Kaaron Warren
  • The Courier’s New Bicycle, by Kim Westwood*
  • Thief of Lives, by Lucy Sussex
  • Only the Animals, by Ceridwen Dovey
  • Holy Bible, by Vanessa Russell*
  • The Other Shore, by Pham Hoa
  • Gap, by Rebecca Jessen*
  • Cherry Bomb, by Jenny Valentish (still reading now…)
Illustration by H Russell Hall
Illustration by H Russell Hall

The biggest effect was on my library borrowing – whenever I visited the library, I always borrowed books by Australian women writers in preference over the rest of my to-read list. I really love my local library, and I’m so glad they have such a great range of writers.

The books I wish I’d read and probably still will one day read are:

  • everything by Madeleine St John (have only read The Women in Black)
  • Madeleine, by Helen Trinca
  • Banana Girl, by Michele Lee
  • Steeplechase, by Krissy Kneen
  • Madness, by Kate Richards
  • Boy, Lost, by Kristina Olsson
  • the rest of Charlotte Wood’s books
  • the rest of Annabel Smith’s books
  • the rest of Nike Sulway/NA Bourke’s books
  • Things I did for Money, by Meg Mundell
  • Stasiland, by Anna Funder

(seems I kept overlooking non-fiction for fiction…)

The things I learned were:

  • I prefer dark, enigmatic, beautiful and slightly confusing books, and a lot of Australian women are writing them: see Jennifer Mills, Margo Lanagan, Sofie Laguna, Nike Sulway, Chi Vu and Anna Dusk.
  • I’m so happy I read Margo Lanagan and dread how long it might have taken to get around to it had I not done AWW Challenge.
  • I don’t feel confident or comfortable rating or reviewing the books of my peers.

Thanks for having me, Australian Women Writers Challenge.

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17 thoughts on “My Australian Women Writers Challenge wrap-up

  1. What a great list – but it makes me realise how many of your reviews/short responses I must have missed. I’ve really enjoyed the ones I read, and I hope you’ll continue with your AWW reading/reviewing/responding in 2015. Thanks so much for your participation.

  2. That’s a mammoth effort—congratulations! You’re right—it introduces all these amazing authors that you want to keep readiing and don’t have enough years left to read them all …

  3. We loved having you Jane! What a great roundup. I love that you indicated what you’d like to read, and I particularly like the things you learnt. I have read a few of the ones you want to, but like you I haven’t read and would like to Madness; Boy, lost; more of Annabel Smith; and, I’m embarrassed to admit, anything by Charlotte Wood. Oh, and I also want – and plan – to read a book by someone called Rawson. Heard of it by any chance?

  4. What a wonderful list! I’m a bit worried about putting together my list of books read this year – so many gaps! – it’s been a crazy year, but I hereby declare next year the year of reading. Will start with those books on your list I haven’t read but want to!

    I also like enigmatic and beautifully-written work. That’s (one of the reasons) why I’m a big fan of Jane Bryony Rawson!

  5. You put your finger on a significant dilemma, re: rating or reviewing books of peers. I think we have to do it, because the Australian literary community isn’t that big, but it is difficult. I try to review peers relatively honestly, but erring on the side of generosity, or sometimes silence if I can’t be.

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