Review of Mind the Country: Tim Winton's Fiction, by Salhia Ben-Messahel
Twenty-five years have passed since Tim Winton was the joint winner of The Australian/Vogel National Literary Award in 1981 , which led to the publication of An Open Swimmer in 1982. Winton bas now published fourteen novels (including young adult and children's books), four collections of short fiction, and three works of non-fiction. He has won numerous awards, including the Miles Franklin (three times), the Western Australian Premier's Book Award (four times), the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award (twice), and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1997, Winton was declared an Australian National Living Treasure; he is arguably the most popular Australian writer within Australia. Nevertheless, surprisingly little criticism has been published on Winton's work, especially when compared to Peter Carey and David Malouf, both of whom published their first novels not long before Winton (in 1981 and 1975, respectively). Uncovering the reasons behind the lack of critical attention paid to Winton's work by academics is well beyond the scope of this review. Whatever the reasons for the delay, a critical study of Winton's work has finally arrived to fill a huge gap in Australian literary criticism. Salhia Ben-Messahel, a French academic of Algerian descent, is the first scholar to write a book-length critical study of Tim Winton's fiction.
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