I know I’m a bit late getting to the party; the party that has formed to honour the writing of Gerald Murnane. Indeed, there may be an actual party in Goroke because this week Murnane will turn 80 years of age. I woke up when, in the British parent section of this magazine (2 February), Daniel Swift wrote glowingly about two books by Gerald Murnane which have just been published in the UK.
The remoteness of Goroke in north-western Victoria seems the perfect setting for a writer who doesn’t want to go anywhere but who can’t stop the rest of the literary world coming to his door, sometimes even literally. His great fan at the New York Times, Mark Binelli, has described him as ‘the greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of’.
There has been gradual muted recognition over the years since 1974 when his first book, Tamarisk Row, was published. A further 15 books have followed at an accelerating pace. Although his work had been praised by J. M. Coetzee and Shirley Hazzard, when, in 1999, he won a Patrick White Award, all his books to that date were out of print. But not any more.
His Border Districts is published currently in Australia by the enterprising Giramondo Publishing and his old friends at Text Publishing have republished A Season on Earth. Official prizes have been received. The NY Times claims he should be the next Nobel Laureate.
It’s never too late.
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