Posting on the excellent Killings blog on the Kill Your Darlings journal website last week, S.A. Jones mused on why great Australian books are being overlooked. Writing in the wake of The Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Awards of 2013, Jones considered what it means to be ‘underrated’. She quoted MUBA 2013 nominee Ginger Briggs:
it’s like winning the award for the prettiest girl who was never invited to the prom
Jones mused on the often tenuous relationship between critical praise and book sales, marketing as ‘a beguiling distraction that eats into writing time’, and whether:
for Gen X readers like myself, the shitful way Australian literature was taught in the 80s and 90s is partly answerable for a reluctance to buy Australian books
In the end, she calls for ‘readers to do the heavy lifting’ and recommends twelve recent books by Australian writers to get readers on their way. I was delighted to see my novel The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was — with Annabel Smith’s Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, Iris Lavell’s Elsewhere in Success, Sarah Drummond’s Salt Story and Julienne Van Loon’s Harmless — one of many Fremantle Press titles on the list. If I say so myself, it’s a great list, and one I’m looking forward to making my way through.