Christmas in the Bush – contemporary Australian writing

Janette Turner Hospital, Frank Moorhouse, and Brian Castro

In 1988 Australia celebrated its controversial Bicentenary – two hundred years of white colonial history in a land that had for centuries figured in European imagination as Terra Australis, the great Southern land located upside down, the Antipodes. White colonisation made Australia into one of the most incongruous, paradoxical cultural entities – the youngest of the new worlds on the oldest continent, a country with a tiny, mostly urban population desperately trying to furnish a strange, prehistoric landscape with imported cultural notions and rituals, living in coastal cities that cling to the edges of a vast and hostile land mass with its dead ‘red centre’ of endless deserts, a time zone where now is already happening tomorrow, a climate where April ushers in the autumn and Christmas summer holidays are spent on the beach or in the bush.

From these tensions and paradoxes emerged a literature that has flourished in the past three decades imagining and formulating a multiplicity of ways of seeing the world from an Australian perspective.

Janette Turner Hospital’s apocalyptic tale of bigotry, hatred and religious fanaticism in North West Queensland

Brian Castro’s dazzling novel of espionage with masterly shifts in time, location and genre

Frank Moorhouse’s epic account of the history of the League of Nations seen through the eyes of a young Australian woman

The occasion marks the publication of three Australian books in Czech translation.