Australia’s long-term Nobel Laureate-in-waiting, Gerald Murnane is little known in the English-speaking world beyond his home country. He was published by Faber in the 1980s along with his countryman Peter Carey, but he attracted fewer sales and was quietly dropped. For my money Murnane is by far the better writer and British readers now have the chance to judge for themselves, with the first UK publication of two volumes that top and tail a long and productive career.
Before embarking on any consideration of the work, we should pause to consider the author himself because, in the densely populated field of literary eccentrics, Murnane has few equals. He lives in the remote Victoria township of Goroke, occupying a single cell-like room at the back of his son’s house,