The final episode of the Australian TV series ‘The Books that Made Us’ was screened on ABC TV last night. (If you live in Australia and missed it, you can catch up on iView. You can also read my thoughts on Episode One here and Episode Two here.)
This episode was entitled ‘Power’ and looked at novels largely through the lens of the power dynamic between men and women, and white people and First Nations people. There was also one book about politics and corruption.
The books covered in episode three
Here is a list of the books mentioned in this episode. They have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname. As ever, hyperlinks take you to my reviews.
- ‘Power Without Glory’ by Frank Hardy [on my TBR]
- ‘Capricornia’ by Xavier Herbert [on my TBR]
- ‘Crimes of the Father’ by Thomas Keneally
- ‘Puberty Blues’ by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey [read this one in my teens]
- ‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty
- ‘That Deadman Dance’ by Kim Scott [I’ve reviewed all Kim Scott’s novels here]
- ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch
- ‘The Natural Way of Things’ by Charlotte Wood [I’ve reviewed all Charlotte Wood’s novels here]
There was also a montage of books by Indigenous writers, which would make an excellent reading list for those who want to explore more by our First Nations storytellers. The list includes:
- ‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch
- ‘Home’ by Larissa Behrendt
- ‘Terra Nullius’ by Claire G. Coleman
- ‘Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray: River of Dreams’ by Anita Heiss
- ‘Too Much Lip’ by Melissa Lucashenko
- ‘My Place’ by Sally Morgan
- ‘Every Secret Thing’ by Marie Munkara
- ‘Song of the Crocodile’ by Nardi Simpson
- ‘Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines’ by David Unaipon
- ‘Heat and Light’ by Ellen van Neerven
- ‘Carpentaria’ by Alexis Wright
- ‘The Swan Book’ by Alexis Wright
To be honest, I thought this was the weakest of the three episodes. I would have loved to have seen Thea Astley’s ‘The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow’ mentioned, which looks at the power-mad superintendent on a punitive mission for Aboriginals, but perhaps that novel isn’t well-known enough.
And where were the novels about war? For instance, David Malouf’s ‘The Great World’, Roger McDonald’s ‘1915’ or Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Narrow Road to the Great North’. But again, maybe the program makers didn’t think there was a specific title that was popular enough to include and Flanagan had already had his name up in lights in the previous episode.
Interestingly, most of the books named in this series, not just this episode, have been adapted for the screen so there was plenty of footage to show and part of me wonders whether that was a prerequisite for inclusion.
And while I’m being a little critical, I must say as much as I do like Claudia Karvan, we did see an awful lot of her on screen — and how many times does she have to cry while doing a reading? I know she’s an actress, but the waterworks were a bit much.
But still, it was WONDERFUL to have our literature celebrated on the small screen like this. Be great if someone could now make a program about Southern Cross Crime, cos that’s recently put us on the world stage and there’s plenty to discuss and showcase.
Did you watch this TV series? If so what did you think? And regardless, do these lists make you want to explore more Australian fiction?