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35 - The Novel Road to the Global South

Australian Fiction, International Exposure and the Transnational Politics of Disadvantage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2023

David Carter
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

This essay looks at works by the Booker Prize-winning authors Peter Carey and Richard Flanagan, with reference to other internationally acclaimed Australian writers including Kate Grenville and Alexis Wright, to consider the ambiguous position of Australian literature in the evolving discourse of the Global South. Despite its emphatically southern location, Australia is usually classified as part of the Global North, based on various economic measures, and with the shift away from postcolonialism to a decolonial understanding of invasion as ‘a structure, not an event’ in settler societies, critics increasingly question whether writers of Australia’s white settler majority are ‘writing back’ to a dominant culture or writing from within one. Yet numerous critics have found it difficult to dissociate the land ‘down under’ from underdog status, and some identify Carey and Flanagan as writers of the Global South. They are aided in this by the historical settings of these authors’ best-known novels, which foreground past hardships endured by groups whose present-day descendants are typically much better placed. Ultimately, rather than seeking to place the Australian novel in relation to the Global South, this essay finds ‘the Global South’ and ‘the Australian novel’ to be mutually destabilising terms.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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