AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 809934497133478575.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob single work   novel   humour  
Issue Details: First known date: 1957... 1957 They're a Weird Mob
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Latest Issues

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Who the hell’s Nino Culotta. That’s what you asked yourself when you first picked up this book, wasn’t it? Well I’m Nino Culotta. My father baptised me Giovanni—John—well Giovannino is like Johnny, and Nino is an easier way of saying it. Or a lazier way, if you like.

'Just off the boat from Italy—the north—Nino Culotta arrives in Sydney. He thought he spoke English but he’s never heard anything like the language these Australians are speaking.

'They’re a Weird Mob is an hilarious snapshot of the immigrant experience in Menzies-era Australia, by a writer with a brilliant ear for the Australian way with words.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob Sono Strana Gente Richard Imrie , ( dir. Michael Powell ) United Kingdom (UK) Australia : Williamson-Powell International , 1966 Z553582 1966 single work film/TV humour (taught in 6 units)

Italian sports journalist Nino Culotta is lured to Sydney during the mid-1960s to work for his brother's new magazine for migrant Italians. When he arrives in the country, however, Nino finds out that there is no magazine and that his brother has taken off with the investors' cash. Left in the lurch is his brother's business partner, Kay Kelly. Nino vows to pay off his brother's debt and gets a job as a builder's labourer. In doing so, he learns how to talk, act, and drink like an Australian male. His numerous attempts to woo Kay are repeatedly rebuffed with humorous results, but in the end she falls in love with him. Nino's introduction to the country and its culture finds him bemused but ultimately confident that he has a future here.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image suggests this film is 'very much a product of the assimilationist view dominating Australian immigration policy at the time'.

Notes

  • Dedication: This is a work of fiction, and is dedicated to all Australians who work with their hands, in gratitude for their very real contributions to my education. Anyone who thinks he recognises himself in these pages probably does. N.C.
  • David Carter's 'Case-Study: They're a Weird Mob and Ure Smith' in Paper Empires a History of the Book in Australia 1946-2005, ed. Craig Munro and Robyn Sheahan-Bright (2006): 24-30 reports that by 1981 there had been 47 impressions and an estimated 940,000 sales of the work.
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.Also braille.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Melbourne, Victoria,:Text Publishing , 2012 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Jacinta Tynan , 2012 essay

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Ure Smith , 1957 .
      image of person or book cover 809934497133478575.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 205p.
      Description: illus. (b & w)
      Reprinted: 1957 , 1958 Twelve times , 1959 , 1960 , 1961 , 1963 , 1964 , 1966 , 1968 , 1974 , 1978 , 1985
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Nicholas Kaye ,
      1958 .
      Extent: 208p.
      Reprinted: 1960
      Note/s:
      • Includes three page glossary.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Ure Smith , 1964 .
      image of person or book cover 787908967669801073.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 205p.
      Description: illus.
      Reprinted: 1966
      ISBN: 0725400544 (pbk)
      Series: y separately published work icon Humorbooks Ure Smith (publisher), 1964- Z1209981 1964 series - publisher
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Kaye and Ward ,
      1968 .
      image of person or book cover 8392508997817026329.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 208p.
      Description: illus.
      ISBN: 071820719X
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Lansdowne , 1981 .
      image of person or book cover 5029251654439668984.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 205p.
      ISBN: 0701815876
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Weldon , 1989 .
      image of person or book cover 8552987301215788163.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 205p.
      ISBN: 0947116923
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon John O'Grady Classics John O'Grady , Sydney : Ure Smith , 1991 Z1310711 1991 selected work novel prose Sydney : Ure Smith , 1991
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob [and] So You Want to Be an Australian Nino Culotta , Cyril Pearl , Dingley : Seal Books , 1995 Z1310808 1995 selected work novel prose humour Dingley : Seal Books , 1995 pg. 1-205
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2012 .
      image of person or book cover 6682124437631920044.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: xv, 253p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Publication date: 26 April 2012.
      ISBN: 9781921922183 (pbk.)
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)

Works about this Work

Straight to the Pool Room: Top 10 Films about the Australian Dream Luke Buckmaster , single work column
y separately published work icon Always Almost Modern : Australian Print Cultures and Modernity David Carter , Melbourne : Australian Scholarly Publishing , 2013 6479433 2013 multi chapter work criticism

'Was Australian culture born modern or has it always been behind the game, never quite modern enough? Was it always already or only always almost modern? David Carter’s essays examine the complex engagements of Australian writers, artists, editors and consumers with 20th-century modernity, social and political crisis, and the impact of modernisms. Always Almost Modern ranges from the great mid-century novels of authors such as Eleanor Dark and M. Barnard Eldershaw to the unprecedented bestseller that was They’re a Weird Mob, from famous to largely forgotten local magazines and to film and television, and from the avant-garde to nationalism, communism and the middlebrow. Chapters engage with key themes in contemporary literary and cultural studies, exploring new ways of understanding Australian culture in terms of its modernity and transnationalism.' (Publisher's blurb)

The Beginner's Guide to Being an Australian : John O'Grady's They're a Weird Mob Lindsay Barrett , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Republics of Letters : Literary Communities in Australia 2012; (p. 239-247)
'Lindsay Barrett interrogates the remarkable effectiveness of Jon O'Grady's They're a Weird Mob - Australia's most popular novel of the 1950s - in negotiating for middlebrow Australian readers the tensions that had arisen between an older version of the 'imagined community' and the new, physical community brought into being by postwar migration. In this sense, Barrett argues, it was 'an intensely ideological work of fiction'. (Kirkpatrick, Peter and Dixon, Robert: Introduction xviii)
Hoaxing Jokes : Unveiling (Un)canny Ethnic Hoaks Giovanni Messina , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of the European Association of Studies on Australia, , vol. 3 no. 2 2012; (p. 90-104)
'This article deals with two ethnic hoaxes - O'Grady's They're A Weird Mob and Demidenko's The Hand that Signed the Paper - examining their reception in the Australian literary market through the lens of Freud's theory of the comic and the joke. Focusing on etymological implications of the comic and the joke, their respective containing and rupturing effects and how these interlink colonial, assimilationist and multicultural discourses in Australia will be pointed out. Apart from revisiting the social and literary backgrounds of the novels this will cast light on their similar perpetuation of binary oppositions which de-aestheticise the inferior "other" in favour of the superior "White" subject. On the other hand, the comic-joke relationship will be useful in order to interpret the psychoanalytical reasons for the diametrically opposite reception the novels received after the hoaxes were unveiled. This reception was due not merely to the different content of the novels but also to the locus of the comic. In They're a Weird Mob the comic is embedded inside the text, thus containing the rupturing effect of the joke, which reveals the mimicral relationship between the two subjects of the above binary opposition and, thus, the post-colonial/post-multicultural "similarity" between them, even after the hoax was revealed. However, in Demidenko's case the locus of the comic is to be found in its epitextual elements which meant that, once the hoax was discovered, the joke with its psychoanalytical meanings and fears haunted the "White" subject in the open, rupturing such a subject's putative superiority. It is with the latter meaning that the neologism "hoaks" is used in this article; that is, to sum up the idea that ethnic hoaxes play on the slippery psychoanalytical ground of the comic and the joke, of superiority and its opposite, uncanny fears.' (Author's abstract)
Untitled Bhakthi Puvanenthiran , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Lifted Brow , no. 14 2012; (p. 24)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
Untitled Bhakthi Puvanenthiran , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Lifted Brow , no. 14 2012; (p. 24)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
Howyergoin'mate 1957 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 18 December vol. 78 no. 4062 1957; (p. 59)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
A Gimmick Book? J. H. Mullett , 1958 single work review
— Appears in: Overland , Winter no. 12 1958; (p. 38-39)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
Untitled J. D. McLaren , 1958 single work review
— Appears in: Overland , Winter no. 12 1958; (p. 38-39)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
Untitled A. G. Mitchell , 1958 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin , Winter vol. 17 no. 2 1958; (p. 216-217)

— Review of They're a Weird Mob Nino Culotta , 1957 single work novel
O'Grady, John see 'Culotta, Nino' : Popular Authorship, Duplicity and Celebrity David Carter , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , October vol. 21 no. 4 2004; (p. 56-73) Always Almost Modern : Australian Print Cultures and Modernity 2013; (p. 215-231)
Laying Our Cultural Foundations Humphrey McQueen , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 17 November 2007; (p. 19)
'Australia Cane' - Fifty Years Later Pino Bosi , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Literary and Social Diasporas : An Italian Australian Perspective 2007; (p. 31-38)
A Hard, Dry Humour for a Hard, Dry Land Keith Willey , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: Constructing a Culture : A People's History of Australia Since 1788 1988; (p. 156-169)
A White Australia 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Making Australian History : Perspectives on the Past Since 1788 2008; (p. 256-287)
Last amended 11 Oct 2018 09:42:21
Settings:
  • Sydney, New South Wales,
  • 1950s
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X