Review: Reading the Landscape, UQP

The brilliant writers featured in this collection are as varied as the cultural landscape we inhabit.
Review: Reading the Landscape, UQP

University of Queensland Press' (UQP) Reading the Landscape, A Celebration of Australian Writing.

In 1940 during a speech on Australian literature, the professor of English at the University of Adelaide, J.I.M. Stewart,  declared there were no Australian books worthy of his time. Eight years on from this stinging appraisal, the University of Queensland Press (UQP) was established to nurture Australian writing.

UQP can be proud of its achievements – including the recently published  anthology: Reading the Landscape, A Celebration of Australian Writing, which is the perfect response to Stewart's comments.

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Having published a staggering number of diverse Australian writers, and giving many the pivotal start they needed in the Australian publishing industry, UQP’s back catalogue is a who's who of Australian literature (a list not even Mr Stewart can sniff at).

There’s Booker Prize winner Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda, and the True History of the Kelly Gang. There’s Lily Brett’s internationally acclaimed Things Could be Worse, not to mention poets such as David Malouf, and Julie Koh. First Nations writers are prominent in UQP’s back catalogue – Tony Birch, Doris Pilkington Garimara AM, Ellen van Neeram, and many more.

Madonna Duffy, UQP Publishing Director, invited past UQP writers whose work has had an important role in shaping Australia’s literary scene to contribute. Reading the Landscape is an exemplary compilation of short stories, poems and essays with each vignette newly created just for this book. Themes of Australia’s hope, vision and legacy are explored, as are themes around origins, Country, frontiers and heritage.

Evidently, every writer chosen for this anthology has had an impact on Australia’s literary culture, and the right writers to be ‘reading the landscape’ in 2018. And the readers who are unfamiliar with some of the writers featured will find themselves in fortunate circumstances as every writer in this book is a master of craft and will pique any readers’ interest.

Victorian Premier’s Literary Award winning writer Mireille Juchau’s After the Strider, the Stranger is haunting with an underlining apprehension throughout. ‘Better to live in a state of impermanence than one of finality,’ she writes. Lily Brett honours her parents’ resilient spirits and shares parts of her identity in the essay A Loud and Unruly Crowd.

The Professor of Indigenous Research and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney, Larissa Behrendt, addresses Australia’s colonisation, and Australia’s struggle between two competing narratives of our history in her essay, The Smoke of Several Fires.

In Patti Miller’s exciting short story Icarus, Barney is an unlikely paraglider, while Matthew Condon’s Lotus, is a story on Brisbane’s seedy underbelly in the '60s and '70s, written with such finesse. This story was so evocative and vivid it deserved an immediate re-read. Condon writes: ‘I’ve lived in the dark for so long there’s one thing I know – what’s there in the light is still there at night.’

The writers chosen for this collection are as varied as the cultural landscape we inhabit. This collection is a fantastic entry-point for new readers of Australian literature, and is also well deserving of a pride of place on any bookshelf.

5 stars ★★★★★ 

Reading the Landscape, A Celebration of Australian Writing

Author: Various 

Category: Fiction,Non-Fiction,Poetry
Release Date: 28/05/2018
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978 0 7022 6008 7
AUD $ 29.95
UQP

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Andrea Simpson

Friday 24 August, 2018