AWW Gen 4 Roundup

AWW Gen 4 Week, 16-23 Jan 2022

During this week Lisa/ANZLitLovers posted a review of The Penguin Best Australian Short Stories (1991). Because of the year it came out, it contained a number of interesting and relatively unknown stories by AWW Gen 4 authors. Lisa was hopeful that there would be authors she did not know, but no such luck. However it did serve to remind me of a short story collection I reviewed a couple of years ago, The Babe is Wise: Contemporary stories by Australian women (1987).

I’ll put the table of contents down the bottom rather than here in the middle of the post, but the question Lisa has put in my mind is who are Judy Duffy, Lallie Lennon, Carolyn von Langenburg, Vicki Viidikas, Sue Chin, and a number of others? And yes there is a story from our ‘new discovery’ Margaret Barbalet. I wish now I had made this book my Gen 4 project.

We had another successful week – thankyou all for your contributions – and we began, I think, teasing out the ways in which Gen 4 is both different from and a continuation of Gen 3. Social Realism I must say seems to have come to a dead stop, probably with the works of Frank Hardy in the 60s and 70s. Or do you think there are elements of Social Realism in Monkey Grip?

Here’s all the posts for the week, including a few I did in the lead up (generously defined)

The Australian Legend
Australian Women Writers Gen 4 (here)
More Gen 4 Stuff (here)
The Bluebird Café, Carmel Bird (here)
West Block, Sara Dowse (here)
Reaching Tin River, Thea Astley (here)
AWW Gen 4: Postmodern? (here)
Monkey Grip, Helen Garner (here)
Snake Cradle, Roberta Sykes (here)

Lisa Hill/ANZLitLovers
The Visit, Amy Witting (here)
Orpheus Lost, Janet Turner Hospital (here)
Blood in the Rain, Margaret Barbalet (here) plus quite a bit of background on Barbalet
The Penguin Best Australian Short Stories, Mary Lord ed. (here)
One Bright Morning, Wendy Scarfe (here)

Kimbofo/Reading Matters
The Orchard Thieves, Elizabeth Jolley (here)

Brona’s Books
Collected Stories, Shirley Hazzard (here)

Sue/Whispering Gums
Monday Musings: Reflections of a 1970s feminist (here)
Blood in the Rain, Margaret Barbalet (here)
‘Epiphany in Harrower’s “The Fun of the Fair”‘ by Emily Maguire (here) [We classified Harrower Gen 3 but WG’s review of Maguire’s interesting essay straddles Generations]

Marcie McCauley/Buried in Print
Rereading Dale Spender (here)

Jessica White
The Whispering Wall, Patricia Carlon (here)

Naomi/Consumed by Ink
The Spare Room, Helen Garner (here)

All these will be listed on the AWW Gen 4 page, along with any others you let me know that you have done (don’t worry about links, just give me names so I can find them) or that you might do in the future. Over on the other side of the world I know Naomi/Consumed by Ink has just read Garner’s The Spare Room and Melanie/Grab the Lapels was not sure if she was going to read Jolley’s The Well. Would love your reviews guys. As I write, a message has flashed across my screen that Lisa has put up one more – goes to look – “Just scraping into the last day of Bill’s week” she begins, which is probably what caught my attention. Wendy Scarfe, I’ll add it now. You’re a champion, Lisa.

Next year we’ll ‘do’ AWW Gen 5, which is to say everyone who’s left. Ok, Australian women who began writing in or since the 1990s. A very important part of Gen 5 is the rise of Indigenous Lit to the leading edge of Aust.Lit generally, so that is a discussion I want to have, but without cutting across Lisa’s longstanding commitment to showcasing Indig.Lit each July (coinciding with NAIDOC Week).

The Babe is Wise: Table of Contents

My Hard HeartHelen Garner
ScarsJudy Duffy
The Plain Clothes ManLyn Hughes
A Lover of Nature and Music and ArtBarbara Hanrahan
MaralingaLallie Lennon
Whatever it TakesMeredith Michie
Brown and Green GiraffesOlga Masters
The GameJudith Woodfall
The DugongJudith Wright
IncubusMolly Guy
My Sister’s FuneralRobin Sheiner
The Test Is, If They DrownKate Grenville
Behind the GlassSue Hancock
TravellingJoan London
Hitler’s DriverCarolyn van Landenburg
Hibakusha’s DaughterFay Zwicky
The Midnight ShiftGillian Mears
Marie and SuzieMarianne Szymiczek
TongueJanet Shaw
Judith. 510 PiecesJudith Lukin
IreneGeorgia Savage
Vegetable SoupCarmel Killin
Darlinghurst PortraitVicki Viidikas
Bella DonnaMary Anne Baartz
Buttercup and WendyCarmel Bird
As Time Goes ByBeverley Farmer
In Defence of Lord ByronIlona Palmer
Write Me, Son, Write MeThea Astley
The MincerMargaret Barbalet
Scratch at the Dark SoilSue Chin
My Father’s MoonElizabeth Jolley

17 thoughts on “AWW Gen 4 Roundup

  1. Another great week Bill. I too have a Penguin anthology of AWW from the late 80’s edited by Dale Spender that I thought I might write up, but we’re away this weekend. So it won’t happen in time I’m afraid. But there were some interesting names including Faith Bandler who I’ve been looking into a bit the past couple of days.


    • Thanks Brona, enjoy your weekend away (terrorising microbats?). I hope you read Marcie on Spender. Faith Bandler was one who caught my eye too. I never look for secondhand books on the internet, well not recently, but maybe I should.
      But don’t worry, there’s never any “in time”, we have a lifetime to continue these discussions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great week Bill but it seems to have gone too quickly. I have a post going up this evening but was, I just remembered that we put Elizabeth Harrower – whose first book was 1957 (like your two or three 1958 ones here) in Gen 3. Oh well, I’ll probably do the post anyhow, and you can ignore it or add it to Gen 3!

    I would say Social Realism died hard and that elements did continue, but mitigated a little by other ideas and approaches. Mena Calthorpe, for example, is very much social realism, but The dyehouse is probably a bit of an outlier in this group.

    Gen 5 is a brave ask … hard to make great generalisations when we are still essentially in it, but certainly diversity, including First Nations features. Also, dystopias by women started to appear?


    • Thanks Sue. Yes I’m afraid you’re a year and a day late with Harrower. I wonder if we (you and I) would still classify her as Gen 3 today. I think I would – Harrower’s writing and concerns still seem far more 1950s than 1970s to me.
      I was impressed that you got your Barbalet post in a day before deadline.
      I only really started thing about SR as I was writing. You’re right about Calthorpe and that makes me think about Dorothy Hewett, whose first, Bobbin Up, was 1959 and, without have read a lot of her, I think her work, written mainly in this period, is somewhere in the space between SR and Garner.
      I was talking to Lisa about Gen 5, and I’m certainly not going to try and list every author. Our dystopian C21st society is certainly generating a lot of mainstream dystopian fiction. Indig.Lit I don’t think of in terms of diversity, I even tend towards the camp that holds it as separate from Aust.Lit., an argument for another day.


      • Never mind, I have posted the post, and referenced Barbalet and both Gen 3 and 4, so I’ve covered all bases. Haha.

        I can’t comment on Hewett as I haven’t read her. But, it’s all about transitions isn’t it.

        I wouldn’t see First Nations Australia Lit as separate from Aust Lit, because so much of it deals with Australia so intensely and it is mostly set IN Australia, but I could see it as belonging to two traditions – Aust Lit and Indigenous Lit.


    • I thought it was going to be a relatively quiet week. How wrong I was! And two more contributions came in overnight – Garner’s The Spare Room from Consumed by Ink, and The Whispering Wall by Patricia Carlon from Jess White. And I know WG is working on more Amy Witting.
      It’s quite clear isn’t it that no one can keep up with everything any more,not all the time.


  3. Next year’s week (now that’s a strange construction!) WILL be interesting. And your event and Lisa’s are nicely spaced, even for those who are taking part in both (which I hope to do, myself). Thanks for hosting (and thanks for the links) and I’m looking forward to making more room in my stacks for Australian women in the reading times ahead.


    • Where you need to make more room is not in your stacks but in your schedule. Gen 5 is going to be a bit different because it’s where everyone (even me, sometimes) reads anyway. I’m tempted to restrict it to writers under 30 – but are those straight-out-of-MFAs women the future of Aust.Lit? Of course, on reflection, Gen 5 is Alexis Wright and Alexis Wright is Gen 5, who else matters?


  4. There was so much going on this past week with AWW Gen 4! I wonder if it couldn’t be two weeks next year, but then asked myself why change the project when it’s almost done. Glad to see someone got to Elizabeth Jolley. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on with her. However, I do have easier access to newer Australian books from the library, so nudge me again in 2023.


    • Melanie, I won’t hesitate to nudge you again. I should start thinking now about a book you would a) like; and b) be able to obtain. I should also check parcel prices to Indiana. We could do housewarming present and Gen 5 books in one go.
      I was very happy with the response to this year’s Week, I had thought it might be a bit more low key.


      • You are too kind! In the past you’ve always refused to let me mail you things; however, this is out first and *fingers crossed* only house purchase. So, but once in a lifetime, eh?

        I see there is a 2021 book entitled Black Thursday and Other Lost Australian Bushfire Stories that sounds interesting, though it’s various authors. It’s compiled by Fiannuala Morgan, if that rings a bell.


  5. Well done Bill, you had a good response once more. Next year I suspect will generate even more contributions because those of us outside Aus will be more familiar with the authors.


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