Awesome Australian Authors


Thinking about some the most memorable YA books I’ve read over the years, I notice there is a heavy Oz slant.  To name a few of the stand-out titles:

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina MarchettaMarchetta_-_Finnikin_of_the_Rock_Coverart

The first in a series dubbed the Lumatere chronicles, this fantasy powerhouse can stand alone.  We begin with young Finnikin who hales from Lumatere, a once-great kingdom which been overtaken by usurpers and cursed for the past decade making it impossible to enter or leave.  Exiled Finnikin explores bordering kingdoms in search of a way to break the curse- and he finds Evanjalin, a mysterious young woman with the unique ability to “walk the dreams” of others and she hints that Lumatere’s true heir is alive after all.

It was a challenge for me to narrow down one favorite by  Marchetta.  I loved 2009 Printz Award Winner Jellicoe Road, Froi of the Exiles (I special ordered a copy from Australia after finishing Finnikin because I couldn’t wait for the US version to be published), Quintana of Charyn, Saving Francesca (Best Book for Young Adults 2005) , and basically everything she has ever written.

i am the messengerI am the Messenger– Markus Zusak (Best Book for Young Adults 2006, Printz Honor 2006)

19 year old taxi driver Ed has been coasting through life with no real sense of purpose– until the day he stops a bank robber and begins to receive mysterious messages in the mail sent on playing cards.  This sets Ed off in a series of interconnecting stories which eventually lead him to self-realization.  Zusak’s tale is adventurous, enjoyable, sometimes comical, and ultimately unforgettable.

Zusak (2014 Edwards Award Winner) is best known for The Book Thief (Best Book for Young Adults 2007, Printz Honor 2007) which was originally published in Australia as an adult title.  The Wolfe Brothers Trilogy is wonderful as well.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey (Printz Honor 2012)Jasper Jones

Small town outcast Jasper Jones appeals to Charlie for help late one night; a local girl has been found dead and Jasper needs Charlie to help him move her body.  The suffocating setting of a stiflingly small Australian town in the heat of summer, and the characterization inspired by American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” make this one uniquely poignant.

Silvey’s first book, Rhubarb is an adult fiction title.  On my to-do read!

MidnightDressThe Midnight Dress– Karen Foxlee

Rose and her father are drifters; making their way through the Australian countryside, stopping where he can get work, and staying until he wears out his welcome (usually by drinking too much).   Typically a loner, in their latest stop (the small coastal town of Leonora) Rose befriends the ebullient Pearl.   Encouraged by her new friend Rose has a special dress made for the annual Harvest Parade, which should have been a happy one but instead ends with death.  Each chapter starts at the end… and this literary mystery will grab on and not let go until the end.

Foxlee’s The Anatomy of Wings is a great read as well!

As Karyn Silverman observes on School Library Journal’s Printz speculation blog, “Someday my Printz will Come” in a discussion of this year’s title Zac & Mia by Australian writer A.J. Betts (

There’s something about Australia that always appeals (it’s an upstart young country like us, but also not, and as a result is familiar enough but still new and a little exciting. This is why Australians win Printz recognition so often).

Karyn Silverman

If you need further evidence, here is a looooooong list of some more awesome Aussie YA writers:

Randa Abdel-Fattah  (

Alexandra Adornetto

Em Bailey

Maria Boyd

Alyssa Brugman (

Rebecca Burton

Laura Buzo

Emma Cameron  (

Isobelle Carmody  (

Lucy Christopher  (

Margaret Clark

Bill Condon  (

Cath Crowley (

Marianne de Pierres (

Alison Goodman  (

Sonya Hartnett  (

Steven Herrick (

Simmone Howell (

Margo Lanagan (

Justine Larabalastier (

Brigid Lowry (She is a New Zealander)

Doug MacLeod (

Jaclyn Moriarty  (

Kirsten Murphy

Garth Nix (

Tim Pegler (

Penni Russon

Karen Tayleur (

Lisa Shanahan

Jessica Shirvington

Tim Sinclair

G.J. Walker-Smith

Scott Westerfeld (He is American but lives in Australia)

Lili Wilkinson

Suzy Zail

The proof is in the pudding, so read Aussie YA!

-Tara Kehoe

3 thoughts on “Awesome Australian Authors”

  1. Great list. I would add John Marsden (Tomorrow, When the War Began; So Much to Tell You); Ursula Dubosarsky (The Golden Day); and Elizabeth Knox (Dreamhunter, Mortal Fire). Knox is technically a New Zealander, but still.

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