The Cambria Australian Literature Series focuses on critical studies of writing by Australians, with a particular emphasis on contemporary Australian fiction. In recent decades Australian fiction publishing has outstripped critical study, with the work of many important writers receiving little more critical attention than newspaper and journal reviews, with occasional articles in scholarly journals or collections by diverse critics. This series gives an opportunity for sustained consideration of a writer’s full career. In each book, an individual critic engages with the work of a writer, assisting other scholars, students and general readers in understanding its complexities. Each book seeks to find an appropriate, original and lively approach to the writer in question. In particular, the series places the writing not only within Australian culture but also in the context of international developments in the novel.Source: Publisher's website.
'Author of six novels, Christopher John Koch (born in 1932) is one of Australia’s leading novelists who enjoys worldwide recognition. Koch’s writing has its finger on the pulse of today’s changing society. Not only does his work fall within a universal stream but it also stands out as a production of its own, built like a puzzle with distinct pieces. Through fiction, Koch explores other genres – the fairy tale, drama, poetry – to the point of producing multi-faceted works which challenge classification. In spite of the constant renewal of his settings for action, one notices the presence of a main thread which runs through Koch’s fiction: the antipodean and ambiguous relationship between illusion and reality.
'This theoretically informed monograph provides a book-by-book analysis of the novelist’s œuvre and gives a full picture of his Weltanschauung. It is valuable reference for scholars in Australian Studies, as well as those researching postcolonial, psychoanalytic and literary theories.
'This book is winner of the Excellence Award 2009 by the THESE-PAC jury (le prix THESE-PAC, Prix Jean-Pierre Piérard) in the South Pacific-Australasia category.'
(Publication summary)Youngstown : Cambria Press , 2007
'Brian Castro is one of the most innovative and challenging novelists writing in English today. By virtue of his childhood migration from Hong Kong to Australia, he is an Australian writer, but he writes from the margins of what might be termed mainstream Australian literature. In an Australian context, Castro has been linked with Patrick White because like White he is an intellectual, deeply ironic, modernist writer. His writing can also be comfortably situated within a wider circle of (largely European) modernist works by Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Gustav Flaubert, Vladimir Nabokov, W. G. Sebald, and the list goes on. Castro’s writing conducts richly intertextual conversations with these writers and their work.
'Castro’s writing is linguistically and structurally adventurous. He revels in the ability of good experimental writing to open up imaginative possibilities for the reader. He strives always to encourage his reader’s imagination to embrace heterogeneity and uncertainty. His extensive engagement with the great modernist writers of the 20th century, combined with his Australian-Chinese cross-cultural concerns make his work unique amongst Australian writers.
'Castro’s fiction is becoming increasingly recognized for its brilliance around the world. Readers and scholars, particularly from France, Germany and China, are discovering the delightful challenges and rewards his writing offers. In Australia, however, Castro’s writing has often been dismissed by academics and major publishing houses as being too cerebral or too literary. He has been labeled a writers’ writer because of the literariness of his concerns and the vast sweep of intertextual references that inform his narratives. Castro’s writing demands a committed, intelligent and passionate reader. He constructs narratives of absences, gaps, and multiple perspectives in the expectation that his reader will make the necessary imaginative connections and, in a sense, become the writer of his text. Castro has stated that the kind of novel he most enjoys reading is one he does not understand immediately, one that requires him to search out references and make discoveries. This is the kind of novel he writes. Perhaps, for this reason he has not attracted the large readership his work deserves.
'This study of Castro’s fiction has two major objectives: to open up multiple points of entry into Castro’s texts as a means of encouraging readers to make their own imaginative connections and to explore diverse ways of reading, as well as to initiate further published scholarly discussions and readings of Castro’s work.
'In this first critical study of Brian Castro’s work, Bernadette Brennan offers original and creative readings of Castro’s eight published novels. Brennan guides the reader through Castro’s elaborate semantics and at times dizzying language games to elucidate clearly Castro’s imaginative concerns and strategies. She opens up the many rhizomatic connections between Castro’s work and the multitude of texts and theorists that influence it and with whom it converses. And through all of this, she stays true to Castro’s imaginative project: to remain always open ended, always gesturing towards possibility rather than certainty and closure.
'Brian Castro’s Fiction is an important book for all literature and Australasian collections throughout the world.' (Publication summary)Amherst : Cambria Press , 2008
'Murray Bail is one of the most boldly innovative and intellectually challenging of contemporary writers. He is widely appreciated in his homeland, Australia, but too little read beyond its shores. Bail's major work began appearing in the 1970s, after an epochal change of government created a climate supportive of new talent and artistic experimentation. The enigmatic nature of his narratives, coupled with painfully slow composition habits, militated against the creation of a large following for his work, but established him as a writer of the most exacting standards, who measured himself against the best offered by European and American letters.' (Publication abstract)Amherst : Cambria Press , 2012
'This collection is a collaborative cross-racial project that brings Anne Brewster, a white scholar of Aboriginal literature, into conversation with Aboriginal writers about a range of issues that arise directly from their work. Brewster explores the various contexts in which these writers write and in which non-Aboriginal readers read Aboriginal literature. The interviews are accompanied by a survey essay (by Brewster) on each writer’s work which aims to introduce readers to the main themes and issues of each writer.
'The book represents a range of writers. It includes highly acclaimed writers whose works are widely recognised (Kim Scott, Doris Pilkington Garimara, Melissa Lucashenko) and other writers whose works are on the ascendancy (Romaine Moreton and Jeanine Leane). Leane and Moreton have attracted some scholarly attention - for example by being set on educational syllabi and having scholarly work published on it – and their reputation continues to grow nationally and internationally. The book includes interviews with a number of emerging writers whose work is powerful and compelling but has not yet been taken up widely either because it is new (Marie Munkara) or because there has been a lack of confidence on the part of readers in taking up authors outside the present canon (Alf Taylor).
'The interviews make a unique contribution to the understanding of Aboriginal literature and of how these writers developed as writers. While many Aboriginal writers write in part for their own communities, they have expressed their strong desire that their work circulate widely among non-indigenous audiences. This book will facilitate the dissemination of Aboriginal literature and will make use of the valuable literary and cultural resources of the writers themselves in order to enrich and expand the understanding of that literature.
'In these interviews the writers talk about the development of Australian indigenous literature and the conditions which have given rise to their writing. They talk about their childhoods, family histories and the regions in which they have lived. They talk about their education and the books they have read; about the importance of humour, the reasons for their choice of a particular genre and what aesthetic and cultural work they see it as undertaking. They talk about how they conceive of their audiences and issues pertaining to cross-racial scholarship. These are all issues which allow readers to understand their work better. This understanding is further enhanced by the survey essays on each writer’s work.
'Aboriginal literature is a growing field with a rapidly expanding global audience. Unfortunately many students and scholars read only the most recognised and acclaimed writers and betray some hesitation in approaching newer authors. While this book represents three widely recognised writers, it widens the canon of Aboriginal literature by introducing readers to four lesser-known but equally important writers.
'Non-indigenous readers are sometimes unsure about the ethics of cross-racial reading and research - how to approach Aboriginal literature, how to read it, teach it and write about it. By providing rare and valuable insight into the writers’ creative process, into the ways in which they conceive of their audiences and readerships, and into their aspirations for cross-racial understanding, the interviews clarify uncertainties and provide direction for non-Aboriginal readers. They contribute to widespread discussions about the ethics of cross-racial reading, research and scholarship. They provide a timely addition to cultural debates within the public sphere beyond the academy and enable us to better comprehend the turbulent times in which we live.
'This book serves to broaden and deepen current scholarship on the literary works but also to introduce readers to writers they might not have read before. They are both accessible and scholarly. The book also fills a gap by focusing areas of that has been neglected. For example while Lucashenko’s novel Steam Pigs has attracted a lot of critical attention, her second adult novel Hard Yards remains largely unnoticed, a situation this book aims to correct.
'Giving this Country a Memory is an important book for all literature and Australasian collections and well as those of global Indigenous literature.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.Amherst : Cambria Press , 2015
'What does it mean to belong? When we belong, how do we recognise it as belonging? What role does belonging play in the formation of self-identity?
'First and foremost, belonging is a kind of relationship, and the connection between self and place has a long philosophical tradition. Experienced across time and place, belonging may be configured through a range of contexts, from belonging to country, belonging to a suburb, a house, even a room within a house or an object. Places and spaces are fundamental to self-identity because the interpretation of our relationships with places and spaces gives rise to meaning, and it is through meaning that a sense of belonging emerges.
'To speak of belonging necessarily entails a sense of estrangement, a recognition of the complexity that is at the heart of the relationship between individuals and what they find in the world. Belonging, like identity, requires some nexus between self and something other; belonging requires, quite literally, something to belong to, a “home” in which we seek not to be a “stranger.” Together, belonging and estrangement map the connections through which self-identity is lived. Life writing necessarily inscribes ourselves into relationships and places and, as our relationship with the past evolves over the years, and as the ever-changing present offers new possibilities for the future, so those relationships are not just written but rewritten, reconfigured, re-imagined, and renegotiated with the time since lived and the forecast of future time.
'While there is a growing interest in our understanding of place and space, the focus of this attention has come mainly from philosophers and geographers. At the same time, life writing as a genre has enjoyed an almost exponential increase in both its readership and the number of life narratives being published. A survey of recent autobiographical writing makes it clear that our contemporary lives are significantly challenged by our connection to place. More particularly, in times of increasing mobility and disruptions to conventional family structures, connections to people and locations have become characterised as much by estrangement as by belonging. This book, therefore, brings recent theorising of place to consider a range of contemporary Australian autobiographies.
'Through a provocative discussion of contemporary Australian life writing, Strangers at Home examines what it means to belong and what belonging means for self-identity. Through an examination of the intersections between personal and social identities, Strangers at Home shows how place is essential to identity: contrary to the conventions of solipsism, a sense of self always entails that the self, even when it looks inward, must always locate that self by looking outward into the world, situating the body, and recognising that neither self nor body are either in or out of that place. This important study shows how writers constitute their selves socially, historically, relationally, communally and existentially, and how their sense of attachment—to belong or feel estranged from—realises these selves into some narrative coherence. From Drusilla Modjeska’s Poppy and Second Half First, to Rebecca Huntley’s An Italian Girl, Steve Bisley’s Stillways and many more, Strangers at Home invites readers to reconsider what it is to feel “at home.”' (Publication summary)Amherst : Cambria Press , 2016