Critical essays on Australia’s ‘most popular’ novelist

Critical essays on Australia’s ‘most popular’ novelist

Tim Winton: Critical Essays

edited by Lyn McCredden and Nathanael O’Reilly

UWA Publishing, $34.99 pb, 342 pp, 9781742586069

Sitting, a few years ago, in the audience at a writers’ festival in the south-west of Western Australia, at a panel session hosted by Jennifer Byrne, I was struck by the widespread reaction to one of the panellists announcing that the book she had chosen to discuss was Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet (now securely canonised as an ‘Australian national classic’, as Fiona Morrison’s essay in this volume points out). A ripple of reverential approval went through the auditorium and discreet murmurs of ‘my favourite book’ were exchanged. This response demonstrated the feeling aroused by Winton and his work in a large section of the general reading public, particularly in the West.

The introduction to this major collection of critical essays on Winton’s work opens on this note. Winton is ‘one of Australia’s most popular … novelists’. Yet, for the editors, the national – and increasingly international – popularity of Winton’s writing has perhaps complicated and delimited critical attention to that work and its undeniable literariness – that is, he is both a ‘popular and literary’ writer. Their hope is that this volume ‘will begin to redress the relative dearth of critical debate about the literature of Tim Winton’.

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Delys Bird

Delys Bird

Delys Bird is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia. She recently retired as the co-editor of Westerly. Her publications include a co-edited book of essays on Elizabeth Jolley’s fiction, Elizabeth Jolley: New Critical Essays and a critical edition of nine of Jolley’s radio plays, Off the Air: Elizabeth Jolley’s Radio Plays. She has published widely on Australian women’s writing.

Published in October 2014 no. 365

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