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Gerald Murnane

Gerald Murnane was born in Melbourne in 1939. He is the author of eleven works of fiction, including Tamarisk Row, The Plains, InlandBarley PatchA History of Books, A Million Windows, and Border Districts, and a collection of essays, Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. He is a recipient of an Emeritus Fellowship from the Australia Council, the Patrick White Literary Award, the Melbourne Prize for Literature, the Adelaide Festival Literature Award for Innovation and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. His last work of fiction, Border Districts, received the the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, was shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the 2018 ALS Gold Medal, and longlisted for the 2018 Voss Literary Prize.

The emotional conviction… is so intense, the somber lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiseled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.

J.M. Coetzee

a genius on the level of Beckett

Teju Cole

No living Australian writer, not even Les Murray, has higher claims to permanence or a richer sense of distinction.

Sydney Morning Herald

Murnane is interested in what part of consciousness – of sensation, of emotion – might be shareable and what part is irreducibly individual, a private territory.

Ben Lerner

Titles

Last Letter to a Reader

Gerald Murnane

140 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published November 2021
ISBN 9781925818840

In the first days of spring in his eighty-second year, Gerald Murnane began a project which would round off his career as a writer – he would read all of his books in turn and prepare a report on each.

Green Shadows and Other Poems

Gerald Murnane

104 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published February 2019
ISBN 9781925336986

Gerald Murnane began his writing career as a poet. He returned to poetry a few years ago when he moved to Goroke, in the north-west of Victoria, after the death of his wife. The forty-five poems collected here are in a strikingly different mode to his fiction – without framing or digressions, and with very few images, they speak openly to the reader of the author’s memories, beliefs and experiences. They are for this reason an important addition to his internationally recognised works of fiction.

Collected Short Fiction

Gerald Murnane

512 pages
Paperback, 23.5 x 15.3 cm
Published April 2018
ISBN 9781925336641

This volume brings together Gerald Murnane’s shorter works of fiction, most of which have been out of print for the past twenty-five years. They include such masterpieces as ‘When the Mice Failed to Arrive’, ‘Stream System’, ‘First Love’, ‘Emerald Blue’, and ‘The Interior of Gaaldine’, a story which holds the key to the long break in Murnane’s career, and points the way towards his later works, from Barley Patch to Border Districts. Much is made of Murnane’s distinctive and elaborate style as a writer, but there is no one to match him in his sensitive portraits of family members – parents, uncles and aunts, and particularly children – and in his probing of situations which contain anxiety and embarrassment, shame or delight.

Border Districts

Gerald Murnane

192 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published November 2017
ISBN 9781925336542

Conceived as Gerald Murnane’s last work of fiction, Border Districts was written after the author moved from Melbourne to a small town on the western edge of the Wimmera plains, near the border with South Australia. The narrator of this fiction has made a similar move, from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. it is a time for exploring the enduring elements of his experience, as these exist in his mind, not as an integral landscape now, but as image-fragments; so that there is an urgency in his attempts to gather them together. Often it is the way the light falls that makes the image memorable. At the end of the work, Murnane quotes the poet Shelley, ‘Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,/ Stains the white radiance of Eternity’. But if Border Districts suggests the border land between life and death, it also refers to the narrator’s discovery of someone else who might share his world, though she enters it from another direction, across the distance which separates them as human beings.

Landscape with Landscape

Gerald Murnane

328 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published July 2016
ISBN 9781925336115

Landscape with Landscape is Gerald Murnane’s fourth book, after The Plains, and his first collection of short fiction. When it was first published, thirty years ago, it was cruelly reviewed. ‘I feel sorry for my fourth-eldest, which of all my book-children was the most brutally treated in its early years,’ Murnane writes in his foreword to this new edition. In hindsight it can be seen to contain some of his best writing, and to offer a wide-ranging exploration of the different landscapes which make up the imagination of this extraordinary Australian writer. Five of the six loosely connected stories also trace a journey through the suburbs of Melbourne in the 1960s, as the writer negotiates the conflicting demands of Catholicism and sex, self-consciousness and intimacy, alcohol and literature. The sixth story, ‘The Battle of Acosta Nu’, is remarkable for its depth of emotion, as it imagines a Paraguayan man imagining a country called Australia, while his son sickens and dies before his eyes.

A Million Windows

Gerald Murnane

216 pages
Paperback, 21 x 15 cm
Published June 2014
ISBN 9781922146533

This new work of fiction by one of Australia’s most highly regarded authors focuses on the importance of trust, and the possibility of betrayal, in storytelling as in life. It tests the relationship established between author and reader, and on occasions of intimacy, between child and parent, boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife. Murnane’s fiction is woven from images, and the feelings associated with them, and the images that flit through A Million Windows like butterflies – the reflections of the setting sun like spots of golden oil, the houses of two or perhaps three storeys, the procession of dark-haired females, the clearing in the forest, the colours indigo and silver-grey, the death of a young woman who had leaped into a well – build to an emotional crescendo that is all the more powerful for the intricacy of their patterning.

Inland

Gerald Murnane

256 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published May 2013
ISBN 9781922146281

With Giramondo’s publication of Barley Patch and A History of Books, Gerald Murnane has attracted renewed interest as a brilliant writer and Nobel Prize contender. First published 25 years ago, Inland is one of Murnane’s most complex and rewarding works, a study of guilt, longing and regret rich in metaphysical insights. From his native district in the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale, Murnane’s narrator imagines another world, in Szolnok county Hungary, and within that world another, in Ideal South Dakota, each haunted by the betrayal of a young girl, each driven by the possibility of restitution. Murnane’s mastery over language and his pressing towards the edges of what fiction can accomplish make this book a landmark in Australian literature.

A History of Books

Gerald Murnane

208 pages
Paperback, 21 x 15 cm
Published May 2012
ISBN 9781920882853

The major work of fiction in this collection, ‘A History of Books’, explores the relationship between reading and writing in twenty nine sections, each of which begins with the memory of a book that has left an image in the writer’s mind. The memory of the books themselves might have faded, but the images remain in their clarity and import – scenes of discord and madness, a stern-faced man, a young woman on a swing, a glass of beer and rays of sunlight, mountain and woodland and horizon – images which together embody the anxieties and aspirations of a writing life, and its indebtedness to what has been written and read. ‘A History of Books’ is accompanied by three shorter works, ‘As It Were a Letter’, ‘The Boy’s Name was David’ and ‘Last Letter to a Niece’, in which a writer searches for an ideal world, an ideal sentence, and an ideal reader.

Barley Patch

Gerald Murnane

320 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published October 2009
ISBN 9781920882532

Barley Patch is Gerald Murnane’s first new work in fourteen years, written after a period in which he had thought he would never write fiction again.

The book begins with the question, ‘Must I write?’ What follows is both a chronicle of the images that have endured in the author’s mind, and an exploration of their nature.

Tamarisk Row

Gerald Murnane

294 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published March 2008
ISBN 9781920882396

First published in 1974, and out of print for almost twenty years, Tamarisk Row is Gerald Murnane’s first novel, and in many respects his masterpiece, an unsparing evocation of a Catholic childhood in a Victorian country town in the late 1940s.

Clement Killeaton transforms his father’s obsession with gambling, his mother’s piety, the cruelty of his fellow pupils and the mysterious but forbidden attractions of sex, into an imagined world centred on horse-racing, played in the dusty backyard of his home, across the landscapes of the district, and the continent of Australia.

Out of the child’s boredom and fear and fascination, Murnane’s lyrical prose opens perspectives charged with yearning and illumination, offering in the process a truly original view of mid-twentieth-century Australia.

Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs

Gerald Murnane

230 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published August 2005
ISBN 192088209X

This collection of essays leads the reader into the curious and eccentric imagination of Gerald Murnane. Delicately argued, and finely written, they describe his dislocated youth in the suburbs of Melbourne and rural Victoria in the 1950s, his debt to writers as unlike as Adam Lindsay Gordon, Marcel Proust and Jack Kerouac, his obsession with racehorses and grasslands and the Hungarian language, and above all, his dedication to the worlds of significance that lie within, or just beyond, the familiar details of Australian life.

Reviews

A strong case could be made for Murnane…as the greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of.

New York Times

Sydney Morning Herald
‘An obsessive imagination’ by Susan Wyndham (16 October, 2005)

New York Review of Books
‘The Quest for the Girl from Bendigo Street’ by J.M. Coetzee (20 December, 2012)

Videos

The Place of Gerald Murnane's Imagining. Gerald Murnane interviewed by Ivor Indyk, Goroke, Victoria 23 June, 2014. Produced with the support of the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Gerald Murnane on A Million Windows. Excerpt from interview with Ivor Indyk, Goroke, Victoria 23 June, 2014.

‘Mental Places: a conversation with Gerald Murnane.’ Publisher and critic Ivor Indyk in converstation with the author Gerald Murnane, 2016.

Selected Writing

Sydney Review of Books: The Still-Breathing Author’ by Gerald Murnane

The Age Monthly Review: ‘Title to Be Announced’ by Gerald Murnane (December 1988)

Meanjin, v.45, no.4, Dec 1986: 514-517: ‘Why I write what I write’ – Revised version of a talk given by Gerald Murnane at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival (October 1986)

Meanjin 53.2: ‘New Blades for Old’ by Gerald Murnane (1994)

Criticism

Southerly 55.3: ‘Indefinite Desires: Love and the Search for Truth in the Fiction of Gerald Murnane’ by Nicholas Birns (1995)

New Literatures Review 18: ‘Gerald Murnane and the Power of Landscape’ by Nicholas Birns (1989)

Australian Studies 15.2: ‘May in September : Australian Literature as Anglophone Alternative’ by Nicholas Birns (2000)

On Murnane

The Paris Review: ‘Scenes from Gerald Murnane’s Golf Club’ by Tristan Foster (26 January, 2018)

Australian Literary Studies 15.4: ‘That Hilarious Supplement: Gerald Murnane’s “A Lifetime on Clouds”’ by Imre Salusinszky (1992)

The Australian: ‘Strange Brew’ by Rosemary Neil (19-20/8/2006)

Australian Magazine: ‘Fractured Prose’ by Barry Oakley (19-20/11/1994)

Southerly 55.3: ‘The Newcastle Freeway Tapes’ by Imre Salusinszky (1995)

Kill your Darlings: ‘Gerald Murnane’s The Plains: An Alternative Australian Literature’ by Wayne Macauley (2012)

Australian Author, Vol. 44, No. 2: ‘Celebration: Gerald Murnane: Australian authors past and present.’ by Cyrill, Christopher (June 2012: 22-25)

Interviews

The Age: ‘A lifetime Journey into the geographies of the soul’ by Julie Szego (14/11/2009)

Meridian 7.2: ‘Inland with Gerald Murnane: An Interview’ by Sue Gillett (October 1988)

Going Down Swinging: ‘Gerald Murnane Interview’ by Kevin Brophy & Myron Lysenko (10/11/1990)

Australian Book Review 172: ‘An Interview with Gerald Murnane’ by Ramona Koval (1995)

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