The Grand Hotel: A novel
Vintage, $32.95 pb, 470 pp
According to the author’s note at the end of The Grand Hotel, this will probably be the last of his stories to be set in ﬁctional Mangowak, a coastal town in south-western Victoria. The ﬁrst, The Patron Saint of Eels (2005), won the 2006 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. The second, Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds (2007), was shortlisted for the 2008 New South Wales Premier’s Prize for Fiction.
All three novels have themes and motifs in common. There is also nostalgia for an Australia which is fast disappearing. In an interview with Michael Shirrefs for Radio National on 21 May 2008, Day said, ‘we’re deﬁnitely vulnerable when we lose our stories and we lose the sense of where we came from’. During the Howard era, he claimed, people became dismissive of the Australian vernacular, when, ironically, the prime minister was making political mileage out of so-called ‘mateship’. In his work, Day wants to ‘document the inner life of those accents and those dialects’. So it is not surprising to discover characters in his novels who seem authentically Australian. Blokes such as the guest at the Grand Hotel who brags about his sexual exploits are all too recognisable.