Spirit : Stories from Down Under

Australia is home to some amazing writers including Tim Winton and Richard Flanagan. In this week’s edition, Karma Group Literary Luminary, Philip Blackwell, shares 5 diverse books about the outback, landscape, politics and history to get you into the Aussie spirit.


1. Rabbit-Proof Fence: The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time by Doris Pilkington

This breath-taking book is based on the true story of three girls who escaped the repressive life of Moore River Native Settlement by following a rabbit proof fence back to their homelands. Stripped of their dignity, language and culture by the Assimilationist policy which dictated that these girls be taken from their homes in order to be made white, this is tale of rebellion, courage and hope.

The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time


2. Rusted Off by Gabrielle Chan

This book is both the broad and the narrow, the personal and the public, documenting the modern Australian political story. Unpacking the small towns around where she lives and the communities that keep them going through threat and times of plenty. Her forensic focus is on ordinary lives not often seen, and the conversations in this book are broad, national and at times international; immigration, transport, health.

Rusted Off: Why Country Australia Is Fed Up


3. The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

From one of Australia’s most-loved novelists, comes this deeply moving story of survival. For years Jaxie Clackton has dreaded going home. His beloved mum is dead, and he wishes his dad was too. There’s just one person in the world who understands him, but to reach her he’ll have to cross the vast saltlands of Western Australia – a journey only a fool or a dreamer would make.

The Shepherd’s Hut


4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan tells the moving story of Dorrigo Evans, a surgeon stationed in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on the Burma Death Railway. As Dorrigo struggles to save his men under his command from a wealth of life-threatening diseases, he remembers a love affair from his youth and receives a letter that will change his life forever.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North


5. Thursday’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

An epic tale of one family and their complicated life lived in the outback in the 1920s. Winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2002, Thursday’s Child follows Harper Flute and her journey into the strange world of adulthood. Following her brother Tin into a subterranean landscape, she struggles to accept the secrets of the community.

Thursday’s Child

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