Just released: Australian Book Review’s readers’ poll of favourite Australian fiction which lists the top 20 voted-for books. Not surprisingly, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet tops the poll. Number two is The Fortunes of Richard Mahony by Henry Handel Richardson, a trilogy The Dilettante is unfamiliar with, but must now be added to the TBR list. The bronze medal as-it-were was given to Voss by Patrick White, a truly great read. Polls like this are sometimes ‘polluted’ by more recent works which are fresh in the minds of readers, but are not worthy of such high placings on an ‘all-time’ list such as this. Breath by Winton, for instance, places a very high fourth – it will be interesting to wait for the next such poll a few years down the road to see if this still rates so highly. Good to see the much-maligned Patrick White has three works in the top 20. Murray Bail, David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Peter Carey all get a slot in the top 20 too, although I’m disappointed Carey’s Illywhacker is not present as this is a personal favourite of mine.
Of course, this is what these polls are all about – insight mixed with a bit of fun; a chance to debate and discuss. For what it’s worth, my top three would be Illywhacker, Cloudstreet & Voss, but as to which order I would opt for, well that is too hard a decision for a Libran like The Dilettante to decide upon!; (I’d also add that David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon is quickly becomming a top three choice).
What’s your favourite Australian novel? Let me know!