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Favourite Australian Novels of the 21st Century

Online Exclusives

Favourite Australian Novels of the 21st Century

Online Exclusives

Announcing the 2009 ABR Favourite Australian Novel

When we sought readers’ nominations for the ABR Favourite Australian Novel (any era, any genre), we anticipated goodly interest because ABR readers are a passionate and well-read bunch. Still, we hadn’t anticipated the flood of emails and letters and faxes that followed.

By December 15, 2009, readers had voted in their thousands for some 290 individual novels. Actually, many more publications were nominated, but these included short story collections and autobiographies and overseas publications, all of which were ineligible.

Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, a perennial favourite since its publication in 1991, was the overwhelming favourite – by a margin of three to one to its nearest rival, Henry Handel Richardson’s The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, which was closely followed by Patrick White’s Voss and Winton’s most recent novel, Breath.

Particularly heartening was the large number of nineteenth-century novels and those published before the remarkable expansion of fiction publishing in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The following feature, which appears in ABR's February 2010 issue, lists the top twenty novels as selected by ABR readers.




Below we list all 290 nominated titles, purely in alphabetical order. Has anyone read all of them, we wonder.


Glenda Adams: Dancing on Coral (1987)

Raymond Aitchison: Contillo: A Novel (1966)

Steven Amsterdam: Things We Didn’t See Coming (2009)

Jessica Anderson: Tirra Lirra by the River (1978)

Thea Astley: Reaching Tin River (1990)

Thea Astley: Vanishing Points (1992)


Murray Bail: Eucalyptus: A Novel (1998)

Murray Bail: Holden’s Performance (1987)

Robert G. Barrett: And De Fun Don’t Done (1993)

Robert G. Barrett: The Godson (1989)

Max Barry: Jennifer Government (2003)

John Birmingham: He Died with a Felafel in his Hand (1994)

John Birmingham: Weapons of Choice (2004)

Jesse Blackadder: After the Party (2005)

Rolf Boldrewood: Robbery under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia (1888)

Martin Boyd: A Difficult Young Man (1955)

Martin Boyd: Lucinda Brayford (1946)

James Bradley: The Deep Field (1999)

David Brooks: Fern Tattoo (1996)

David Brooks: The House of Balthus (1995)

Geraldine Brooks: March: A Novel (2005)

Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book (2008)

Geraldine Brooks: Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague (2001)


Anna Campbell: Untouched (2007)

Ada Cambridge: A Marked Man: Some Episodes in His Life (1890)

Fiona Capp: Musk & Byrne (2008)

Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette: Puberty Blues (1979)

Peter Carey: Bliss (1981)

Peter Carey: Illywhacker (1985)

Peter Carey: Oscar and Lucinda (1988)

Peter Carey: The Tax Inspector (1991)

Peter Carey: Theft: A Love Story (2006)

Peter Carey: True History of the Kelly Gang (2000)

Patricia Carlon: The Whispering Wall (1969)

Isobelle Carmody: Obernewtyn (1987)

Steven Carroll: The Art of the Engine Driver (2001)

Steven Carroll: The Lost Life: A Novel (2009)

Steven Carroll: The Time We Have Taken (2007)

Brian Castro: The Garden Book (2005)

Brian Caswell: A Cage of Butterflies (1992)

Nick Cave: And the Ass saw the Angel (1989)

Nan Chauncy: Tangara (1960)

Marcus Clarke: For the Term of His Natural Life (1874)

Jon Cleary: The Sundowners (1952)

Jon Cleary: You Can’t See Around Corners (1947)

Kate Cole-Adams: Walking to the Moon (2008)

Matthew Condon: The Trout Opera (2007)

Peter Corris: Salt and Blood (2002)

Kenneth Cook: Wake in Fright (1961)

Bryce Courtenay: Brother Fish (2004)

Bryce Courtenay: Jessica (1998)

Bryce Courtenay: The Persimmon Tree (2007)

Bryce Courtenay: The Potato Factory (1995)

Bryce Courtenay: The Power of One (1989)

Bryce Courtenay: Sylvia (2006)

Erle Cox: Out of the Silence (1925)

Alison Croggon: The Gift (2003)

Dymphna Cusack: Come in Spinner (1951)


Eric Dando: Snail (1996)

Eleanor Dark: The Little Company (1945)

Eleanor Dark: Prelude to Christopher (1934)

Eleanor Dark: The Timeless Land (1941)

Eleanor Dark: Waterways (1938)

Robert Dessaix: Night Letters (1996)

Joy Dettman: Henry’s Daughter (1938)

Joy Dettman: Mallawindy (1998)

Sara Douglass: Darkwitch Rising (Book 3 of the Troy Game Series) (2005)

Jon Doust: Boy on a Wire (2009)

Robert Drewe: The Drowner (1997)

Robert Drewe: Our Sunshine (1991)

Lyn Duclos: Shattered Reflections (2006)


Nick Earls: 48 Shades of Brown (2007)

Nick Earls: Zigzag Street (1996)

Greg Egan: Permutation City (1994)

Greg Egan: Quarantine (1992)

Sumner Locke Elliott: Eden’s Lost (1969)

Ben Elton: Blind Faith (2008)


Delia Falconer: The Service of Clouds (1997)

Richard Flanagan: Death of a River Guide (1994)

Richard Flanagan: The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997)

Richard Flanagan: Gould’s Book of Fish (2001)

Richard Flanagan: The Unknown Terrorist (2006)

Richard Flanagan: Wanting (2008)

David Foster: Dog Rock (1985)

Thurley Fowler: The Green Wind (1986)

Kathryn Fox : Malicious Intent (2004)

Karen Foxlee: The Anatomy of Wings (2007)

Miles Franklin: All that Swagger (1936)

Miles Franklin: My Brilliant Career (1901)

Joseph Furphy: Such is Life (1903)


Doris Pilkington Garimara: Rabbit Proof Fence (1996)

Helen Garner: The Children’s Bach (1984)

Helen Garner: Monkey Grip (1997)

Helen Garner: The Spare Room (2008)

Margaret Geddes: Unseemingly Longing (1997)

Nikki Gemmell: The Book of Rapture (2009)

Nikki Gemmell: The Bride Stripped Bare (2003)

Nikki Gemmell: Cleave (1998)

Nikki Gemmell: Shiver (1997)

May Gibbs: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1918)

Libby Gleeson: Eleanor, Elizabeth (1984)

Morris Gleitzmann: Two Weeks with the Queen (1990)

Andrea Goldsmith: Reunion (2009)

Peter Goldsworthy: Maestro (1989)

Peter Goldsworthy: Three Dog Night (2003)

Kerry Greenwood: The Castlemaine Murders (2004)

Kate Grenville: Dark Places (1994)

Kate Grenville: The Idea of Perfection (1999)

Kate Grenville: Joan Makes History (1988)

Kate Grenville: The Lieutenant (2008)

Kate Grenville: Lillian’s Story (1985)

Kate Grenville: The Secret River (2005)

Jeannie Gunn: We of the Never Never (1908)


Julia Haisley: The Good Samaritan (2008)

Rodney Hall: Captivity Captive (1989)

Marion Halligan: The Fog Garden (2001)

Rosalie Ham: The Dressmaker (2000)

Henry Handel Richardson: The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1930)

Barbara Hanrahan: The Scent of Eucalyptus (1973)

Richard Harland: Worldshaker (2009)

Elizabeth Harrower: The Long Prospect (1958)

Sonya Hartnett: Of a Boy (2002)

Sonya Hartnett: The Ghost’s Child (2007)

Sonya Hartnett: Surrender (2005)

Sonya Hartnett: Thursday’s Child (2000)

Corrie Hasking: Eating Lolly (2008)

Vicki Hastrich: The Great Arch (2008)

Shirley Hazzard: The Transit of Venus (1980)

Xavier Herbert: Capricornia (1938)

Xavier Herbert: Poor Fellow My Country (1975)

Matt Howard: Street Furniture (2004)

Andrew Hutchinson: Rohypnol (2007)

Adrian Hyland: Diamond Dove (2006)

M.J. Hyland: Carry Me Down (2006)



David Ireland: The Glass Canoe (1976)

David Ireland: The Unknown Industrial Prisoner (1971)


Kate Jennings: Snake (1996)

George Johnston: My Brother Jack (1964)

Elizabeth Jolley: Foxybaby (1985)

Elizabeth Jolley: The Newspaper of Claremont Street (1981)

Elizabeth Jolley: The Well (1986)

Gail Jones: Dreams of Speaking (2006)

Gail Jones: Sorry (2007)


Tom Keneally: The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1972)

Tom Keneally: Confederates (1979)

Tom Keneally: A Dutiful Daughter (1971)

Tom Keneally: The Playmaker (1987)

Tom Keneally: Schindler’s Ark (1982)

Cate Kennedy: The World Beneath (2009)

Malcolm Knox: A Private Man (2004)

Peter Kocan: The Treatment (1980)

Peter Kocan: The Cure (1983)

Christopher Koch: The Doubleman (1985)

Christopher Koch: Highways to a War (1995)

Christopher Koch: The Year of Living Dangerously (1978)

Michelle de Kretser: The Lost Dog (2007)


Stephen Lacey: Sandstone (2005)

Margo Lanagan: Tender Morsels (2008)

Eve Langley: The Pea Pickers (1942)

Glenda Larke: The Last Stormlord (2009)

Tobsha Learner: The Witch of Cologne (2004)

Julia Leigh: The Hunter (1999)

Hilarie Lindsay: The Washerwoman’s Dream (2002)

Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967)

Norman Lindsay: The Magic Pudding (1918)

Amanda Lohrey: The Reading Group (1988)

Joan London: Gilgamesh (2001)

Joan London: The Good Parents (2008)

Lennie Lower: Here’s Luck (1929)


Colleen McCullough: Morgans Run (2000)

Colleen McCullough: On, Off (2006)

Colleen McCullough: The Thorn Birds (1977)

Fleur McDonald: Red Dust (2009)

Roger McDonald: Mr Darwin’s Shooter (1998)

Andrew McGahan: 1988 (1995)

Andrew McGahan: Praise (1992)

Andrew McGahan: The White Earth (2004)

Rhyll McMaster: Feather Man (2007)

Wayne Macauley: Blueprints for a Barbed Wire Canoe (2004)

Shane Maloney: The Brush Off (1996)

David Malouf: An Imaginary Life (1978)

David Malouf: Fly Away Peter (1982)

David Malouf: Johnno (1975)

David Malouf: Ransom (2009)

David Malouf: Remembering Babylon (1993)

David Malouf: The Great World (1990)

Melina Marchetta: Looking for Alibrandi (1990)

Melina Marchetta: On The Jellicoe Road (2006)

John Marsden: Checkers (1996)

John Marsden: Tomorrow, When the War Began (1993)

Tony Martin: Lollyscramble (2005)

Sophie Masson: In Hollow Lands (2004)

Michael Meehan: The Salt of Broken Tears (1999)

Alex Miller: Conditions of Faith (2000)

Alex Miller: Journey to the Stone Country (2002)

Alex Miller: Landscape of Farewell (2007)

Alex Miller: Lovesong (2009)

Alex Miller: Prochownik’s Dream (2005)

Elyne Mitchell: Silver Brumbies of the South (1965)

Frank Moorhouse: Forty Seventeen (1988)

Frank Moorhouse: Grand Days (1993)

Sally Morgan: My Place (1987)

Jaclyn Moriarty: Finding Cassie Crazy (2003)

Kate Morton: The Shifting Fog (2006)

Tara Moss: Fetish (1999)

Gerald Murnane: Tamarisk Row (1974)


D’Arcy Niland: The Shiralee (1955)

Garth Nix: Lirael (2001)

Judy Nunn: Kal (1996)


John O’Grady (n.d.p Nino Culotta): They’re a Weird Mob (1957)

Bernard O’Reilly: The Green Mountains (1942)


Vance Palmer: The Passage (1930)

Ruth Park: The Harp in the South (1948)

Ruth Park: Playing Beatie Bow (1980)

Bronwyn Parry: As Darkness Falls (2008)

Bronwyn Parry: Dark Country (2009)

Elliot Perlman: Seven Types of Ambiguity (2003)

D.B.C. Pierre: Vernon God Little (2003)

Rosa Praed: Lady Bridget of the Never-Never Land (1915)

Katharine Susannah Prichard: Coonardoo (1929)


Leigh Redhead: Cherry Pie (2007)

Graham Reilly: Saigon Tea (2002)

Matthew Reilly: Five Greatest Warriors (2009)

Matthew Reilly: Ice Station (1998)

Matthew Reilly: Seven Ancient Wonders (2005)

Gregory David Roberts: Shantaram (2003)

Emily Rodda: The Forests of Silence (2000)

Jennifer Rowe: Stranglehold (1993)

Steele Rudd: On Our Selection (1899)


Sue Saliba: Something in the World Called Love (2008)

Eva Sallis: Fire Fire (2004)

John Scott: What I have Written (1994)

Craig Silvey: Jasper Jones (2009)

Neville Shute: On The Beach (1957)

Ivan Southall: Matt and Jo (1973)

Christina Stead: For Love Alone (1945)

Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children (1940)

Elizabeth Stead: The Fishcastle (2000)

Randolph Stow: To the Islands (1958)

Randolph Stow: The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea (1965)

Gunter O. Swoboda: Mountains of the Sea (2009)


Susan Temby: The Bread with Seven Crusts (2002)

Peter Temple: The Broken Shore (2005)

Peter Temple: In the Evil Day (2002)

Peter Temple: Truth (2009)

Peter Temple: White Dog (2003)

Kylie Tennant: The Honey Flow (1956)

Colin Thiele: Storm Boy (1963)

Glen Tomasetti: Thoroughly Decent People (1976)

Steve Toltz: A Fraction of the Whole (2008)

P.L. Travers: Mary Poppins (1934)

Rachael Treasure: Jillaroo (2002)

Rachael Treasure: The Rouseabout (2008)

Christos Tsiolkas: Dead Europe (2005)

Christos Tsiolkas: Loaded (1995)

Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap (2008)

Ethel Turner: Seven Little Australians (1894)

George Turner: The Sea and Summer (1987)

Janette Turner Hospital: Borderline (1985)

Janette Turner Hospital: The Last Magician (1992)

Janette Turner Hospital: Due Preparations for the Plague (2003)


Tasma Walton: Heartless (2009)

Jillian Watkinson: The Architect (2000)

Patrick White: The Aunt’s Story (1948)

Patrick White: The Eye of the Storm (1973)

Patrick White: A Fringe of Leaves (1976)

Patrick White: Tree of Man (1955)

Patrick White: The Twyborn Affair (1979)

Patrick White: Riders in the Chariot (1961)

Patrick White: The Solid Mandala (1986)

Patrick White: The Vivisector (1970)

Patrick White: Voss (1957)

Tim Winton: Blueback (1997)

Tim Winton: Breath (2008)

Tim Winton: Cloudstreet (1991)

Tim Winton: Dirt Music (2001)

Tim Winton: The Riders (1994)

Tim Winton: Shallows (1984)

Amy Witting: I for Isobel (1989)

Chris Womersley: The Low Road (2007)

Charlotte Wood: The Submerged Cathedral (2004)

Alexis Wright: Carpentaria (2006)

Patricia Wrightson: Down to Earth (1965)


Peter Yeldham: Barbed Wire and Roses (2008)

Peter Yeldham: The Currency Lads (1998)


Arnold Zable: Café Scheherazade (2001)

Matt Zurbo: Idiot Pride (1997)

Markus Zusak: The Book Thief (2006)

Markus Zusak: The Messenger (2005)



2009 ABR FAN Poll

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