Tag Archives: Australian authors

Graffiti Moon

Mom,

I’m so glad you liked Graffiti Moon.  I read it back at the end of 2011 to review for VOYA and was immediately optimistic for 2012 – and I was right, seeing that as good as Graffiti Moon is, it isn’t even really getting any awards attention, since there are so many great contenders.  Unfortunately, the fact that I read it so long ago means I don’t remember specifics, so I’m relying here on the notes from my review. Continue reading

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Urban Australian

Mark,

I haven’t read A Confusion of Princes yet (ack! too many books!), but since this is Australia week, let’s talk about a 2012 book by an Australian author that I hope is on the radar of ths year’s Printz Committee: Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley. I read this because you mentioned it to me, and I loved it.

This is a clear example of what I was referring to in my earlier post–a book by an Australian author that resonates completely with Americans, because, well, teenagers are teenagers, and these kids could be in any urban center. They are finishing high school, wondering about their futures, thinking about love and friendship and families and art. Continue reading

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Garth Nix

Mom,

Interesting comparison to California.  I quite like your idea about Australia being just-strange-enough to be intriguing, and I certainly agree that it’s a lot easier to be critical of realistic fiction that takes place in a setting and milieu that you know well.  So that’s a point in favor of Australia, and may explain some of the intrigue of I Am the Messenger, Jasper Jones, and others.  But you rightly point out that many of these authors write Speculative Fiction, so it remains a bit of a mystery.  Maybe even a statistical fluke, with such a small sample size.  I suppose if I wanted to get more scientific, I could go through the BBYA and BFYA lists to get a bigger sample.

But I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I’m going to talk about Garth Nix, who as you mentioned is Australian (and whose Lireal made BBYA Top Ten – another YALSA-decorated Aussie), but who writes Speculative Fiction.   Continue reading

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Australians and Californians

Mark,

Thanks for your statistics. Here are some more:

Australia has a population of 22,732,214 (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics). California’s 2010 Census population count was  37,253,956, and 2012 estimates are close to 37.8 million. So Australia has about 60% as many people as California.

By your calculations, Australians have either 28%  (10/35) or 16% (10/62) of Printz Awards and Honors, and 25.8% (8/31) of winning authors.

And what about Californians? Well, by my calculations, only 3 Printz-winning authors are full-fledged Californians (born, raised, still live here): Gene Yang, Elizabeth Partridge, and Daniel Handler (interestingly–all three are from the Bay Area). There are four others whose bios indicate that they have lived in California at various times in their lives, although none live here now (Stephanie Hemphill, Helen Frost, An Na (grew up in San Diego), and Garrett Freyman-Weyr). So Californians have won only 4.8% of the awards, despite superior population numbers. What’s up with that?

Continue reading

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Australia and the Printz

Mom,

A couple of weeks ago, you and I were talking (IRL) about Australian YA literature and how pervasive it seems to have become, so I decided to look at some numbers.

There’re been 62 Printz Medals and Honors, of these:

  • 39 were won by Americans
  • 9 by Brits
  • 2 by Canadians
  • 1 by a Dane
  • 10 by Australians*
  • 1 by a New Zealander

So, a ton of things leap out at me about these numbers.  First, Australians represent the largest group (or second largest: see footnote) of non-American winners.  Second, the first non-American, non-British authors recognized by the Printz were Canadians Kenneth Oppel and Allan Stratton in 2005, and the first Australians were Marcus Zusak and Margo Lanagan in 2006, so we’re actually talking about 10 Australian awards out of the last 35 awards.  That is stunning.  It’s partially mitigated (maybe) by the fact that 4 of those awards were given to two authors, Zusak and Lanagan, but if just count people, it’s 8 Aussies out of 31 authors, for more than 25%.  Finally, there has only been one translated book that has been recognized by the Printz committee (Janne Teller’s Nothing).

What can we make of this?  Obviously, part of it has to do in some sense with my last point, above.  The Printz has a bias for books written originally in English, and Australia and Britain are pretty good places to go looking for those books.  But that doesn’t explain why there are no authors from South Africa or India, a couple of countries with huge native English speaking populations (the Man-Booker Prize, for example, which goes to books written by members of the former Commonwealth, has recently gone twice to Indians, and twice to Irish writers).

So what is it about Australia?  Are there no YA books coming out of those countries I mentioned above?  I remember from library school that a lot of the most innovative library programs are going on down in Australia and New Zealand – might that have some effect on what books get looked at by Americans?  You know more about the way books make their way into the hands of committee members–anything there that might skew the balance?  Or are we just to conclude that Australians are writing the best books?

– Mark

*I’m counting Lucy Christopher and Christine Hinwood among the Aussies.   Hinwood was born in the UK, but grew up and went to college in Australia.  Christopher was born in Wales but grew up in Australia.  If you’d rather give a half point to each, it’s 10 Brits and 9 Australians.

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