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19 - Unsettling Archive

Suburbs in Australian Fiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2023

David Carter
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

As a ubiquitous but under-acknowledged setting in Australian fiction, suburbia affords the detailed representation of everyday, local places and landscapes at specific points in their history, even while adumbrating structures germane to globalised capitalist modernity – features arguably also integral to the novel itself as a morphing yet durable narrative form. Abstract dimensions like these become manifest via individual novels that evoke specific suburban places and geographies. Attending to one such geography, a sector of metropolitan Sydney conventionally known as the ‘North Shore’, this chapter works with four novels, reading them both chronologically and collectively, and proposing that, taken together, they constitute a fictional archive of an affluent, middle-class, urban subregion. Through its tight focus on one specific subregion, the chapter makes the argument that novels can be read not just singly but serially, for their sensory evocation of mundane and ephemeral place, and for their unearthing of that which is routinely suppressed by and within settler-suburbia. The novels from which this chapter forms its putative, fictional archive of Sydney’s North Shore are Christina Stead’s Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934), Patrick White’s Riders in the Chariot (1961), Jessica Anderson’s The Impersonators (1980) and Fiona McGregor’s Indelible Ink (2010).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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