Review of A Companion to Australian Literature since 1900, edited by Nicholas Biros and Rebecca McNeer.

A Companion to Australian Literature since 1900 offers a fresh perspective on Australian literature. This thought-provoking companion is edited by two North American scholars (many will be familiar with Nicholas Biros as the editor of Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature) and eschews the 'self-congratulatory perspective often taken when discussing the general course ofAustralian literary history' (l). In their introductory essay, tbe editors clearly mark out the particular framing they have sought for their volume: one that departs from the more familiar teleological readings ofAustralian literature in terms of 'emergence' and 'development', accounts that in recent decades have taken comfort from the notion that Australian literature has reached a stage where it is 'good enough' to warrant serious attention at home and abroad. Instead, Biros and McNeer tease out the multiple investments both writers and scholars have had in notions of 'tradition' and 'nation' and they engage productively with those tensions between the global and the local that inevitably shape any discussion of contemporary national literary cultures. The editors locate these debates firmly in the context of the global literary marketplace, the rise of literary cosmopolitanism, and the uneven international awareness of, and engagement with, Australian writing. The key virtues of the volume lie in the overall quality of the individual essays, in the strong focus on indigenous authors, in the coverage of more recent writing and in the general diversity of topics covered. While this companion will be welcomed by scholars and researchers within Australia, it has also clearly been conceived with an international reading audience in mind, and will doubtless be of significant value to those teaching and researching Australian literature and Australian studies worldwide.

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Published 1 May 2009 in Volume 24 No. 1. Subjects: Australian literary criticism.

Cite as: Dever, Maryanne. ‘Review of A Companion to Australian Literature since 1900, edited by Nicholas Biros and Rebecca McNeer..’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 24, no. 1, 2009, doi: 10.20314/als.b29cc3a588.