'In the dying town of Drylands, Janet Deakin sells papers to lonely locals. At night, in her flat above the newsagency, she attempts to write a novel for a world in which no one reads—‘full of people, she envisaged, glaring at a screen that glared glassily back.’ Drylands is the story of the townsfolk’s harsh, violent lives. Trenchant and brilliant, Thea Astley’s final novel is a dark portrait of outback Australia in decline.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Text ed.)
'Writing Belonging at the Millennium brings together two pressing and interrelated matters: the global environmental impacts of post-industrial economies and the politics of place in settler-colonial societies. It focuses on Australia at the millennium, when the legacies of colonization intersected with intensifying environmental challenges in a climate of anxiety surrounding settler-colonial belonging. The question of what belonging means is central to the discussion of the unfolding politics of place in Australia and beyond.
'In this book, Emily Potter negotiates the meaning of belonging in a settler-colonial field and considers the role of literary texts in feeding and contesting these legacies and anxieties. Its intention is to interrogate the assumption that non-indigenous Australians' increasingly unsustainable environmental practices represent a failure on their part to adequately belong in the country. Writing Belonging at the Millennium explores the idea of unsettled non-indigenous belonging as context for the emergence of potentially decolonized relations with place in a time of heightened global environmental concern.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'This article reads Thea Astley’s final novel in the context of rhetoric about the death of Australian literature that has been a mainstay of our national culture almost since its inception. In the early 2000s, a new round of obituarists argued that the global publishing industry, critical trends and changing educational pedagogies were eroding Australia’s literary identity. Drylands, published in 1999, can be considered a slightly prescient participant in this conversation: it is subtitled A Book for the World’s Last Reader, seemingly framing the novel in a polemics of decline. My reading, however, sees the book as the product of two correlated yet combative literary projects: the attempt by its primary narrator, Janet Deakin, to write a book after what she sees as the likely death of reading and writing; and Astley’s more nuanced exploration of the role of literature in settler colonial modernity. Reading across the seven narratives that constitute the book, I argue that Drylands performs the fraught relationship between ethics and aesthetics in the context of writing about the systemic violence of the settler colonial state, questioning literary privilege, exclusivity and complicity in ways that remain relevant to debates regarding Australian literature today.' (Publication abstract)
'On its website, the Reading Australian Literature series is advertised as offering a 'unique insight into an ongoing writerly dialogue with our literary heritage,' and so it was appropriate when first thinking about this topic I began with the idea of a conversation. the second thing that came to mind was a comment by Tegan Bennett Daylight in an essay on Helen Garner, in which she quotes Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye. Holden says what really knocks him out 'is a book that ... you wish the author who wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could cal him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.' And Bennett Daylight herself says, 'Each time a writer writes that are making that phone call, to all the writers whose work they have read' (Bennett Daylight 25). (Introduction)