I can name many Australian creators of literature. Let not our historians depress them with proofs that they are merely creators of Australian literature.
(W.A. Amiet, Meanjin Papers)
I first discovered Australian literature in Argentina. While I was there studying Argentinian literature at the University of Buenos Aires in 2009–10, I spent many nights hunched over the table in our dingy kitchen with one of my housemates, Teresa. We would pick over the politically infused vernacular of the short stories that I was reading for my class on ‘Problems in Argentinian Literature’. Most days I caught bus number 168, the same route on which Julio Cortázar’s short story ‘Ómnibus’ is set. My encounter with the city became an encounter with its literature. I lived near calle Garay, and walked along it wondering about the possibility of the infinite nutshell window in a Borges basement. Around the corner from my apartment, in the small independent bookshop La Libre, I found a book of contemporary Australian poetry translated into Spanish by Colombian poets. Included were poems by Les Murray. On the cover was a horizon of orange desert, with ‘AUSTRALIA’ in a huge font. At once a rush of recognition and homesickness; then a flush of embarrassment trying to explain to my Argentinean friend why I had never read anything by the famous Australian poet.