The rise of experimental, strange Australian literature and fiction
29 May 2023
There’s a lot to like about smaller, independent, book publishers. The first has to be the quality of the stories they’ve been bringing to bookshelves in recent years. This is borne out by the increasing presence of indie published titles in the long and short lists of Australian literary awards such as the Stella, and the Miles Franklin.
The second is the “risk” smaller publishers — many of whom are members of the Small Network Press — will take on a book with a storyline that might be regarded as fringe, something perhaps their mainstream counterparts are reluctant to do.
Nina Culley, writing for Kill Your Darlings, says the publication of titles including Grimmish by Michael Winkler, Every Version of You by Grace Chan, and Dropbear, a collection of poetry by Evelyn Araluen, is signalling a move away from “realist” stories, towards writing more on the experimental and strange side.
Small presses, literary magazines, anthologies and poetry collections have long since encouraged outlandish stories, experimentation and play, and we are now seeing more smaller publishing houses doing the same. Publishers like Spineless Wonders, SubbedIn, UQP, Transit Lounge and Giramondo are revolutionising Australia’s literary output by responding to an expanding readership that craves literary disobedience.
I’m intrigued by what is regarded as “literary disobedience” though (much as I like the term). For instance I finished reading Every Version of You last week, and despite the novel being described as a work of speculative literary fiction, the entire premise really seemed all too plausible. But maybe I need to stop consuming as much science fiction and fantasy as I do.