Gerald Murnane

Biography

Gerald Murnane is the award-winning author of fifteen books in his native Australia. In 2019 Tamarisk Row and Border Districts, his first novel and his latest work of prose fiction respectively, were published to acclaim in the UK by And Other Stories, and are followed by Collected Short Fiction and Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs in 2020. More titles will follow. Known for his passion for horse-racing and his refusal to travel outside Australia, Murnane lives in the remote village of Goroke in the northwest of Victoria, near the border with South Australia.

Reviews

JM Coetzee
New York Review of Books

‘The most ambitious, sustained, and powerful piece of writing Murnane has to date brought off. The underlying narrative is of the twelve-year-old boy and the girl from Bendigo Street, their friendship and their parting, and of the man’s later attempts, Orpheus-like, to summon her back, or if not her, then her shade, from the realm of the dead and the forgotten. Woven into this narrative are a number of motifs whose common element is resurrection: the violated serf girl who returns as an angel of defiance; the lovers in Wuthering Heights united beyond the grave; the great recuperative vision experienced by Marcel in Time Regained; and verses from the Gospel of Matthew that foretell the second coming of Christ.’

Jack Kerridge
The Daily Telegraph

‘[Murnane’s] unique body of work certainly merits the world’s most prestigious literary prize, boasting an ability to convey the workings of human consciousness that is unlike anything else I’ve read. His deep, strange, mesmerising books – a dozen novels, numerous short stories and essays – seem less like discrete entities than one enormous work in which the author meditates over and over on various talismanic images and subjects.’

John Self
Irish Times

The sort of writing Murnane gives us – focused, precise – probably depends upon a life free from disruption: free to think and take time and put one word after another with as much care as possible … It doesn’t have what most novels do – plot, characters in the traditional sense, even a clear setting at times – and yet to read it with an eye on what’s not there is to overlook what is. It plunges deep into the way our minds work, the connections between memories and images that make up what we call our selves. Indeed, reading Murnane’s fiction, stripped of the usual elements, actually makes other novels seem thin by comparison.’


Praise for Gerald Murnane

‘Murnane, a genius, is a worthy heir to Beckett.’      Teju Cole ‘The emotional conviction…is so intense, the sombre lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiselled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.’ J. M. Coetzee ‘An enigmatic author, possibly the best you’ve never heard of . . . His work insists on the reality of the inner world – perhaps even its primacy.’ Melissa Harrison, Financial Times ‘Immediately arresting . . . Murnane’s writing exhibits what literature should: an insight into a way of seeing that is quite unlike our own.’ John Self, Irish Times ‘As with Proust, the specificities of the images he pursues and catalogues provide their own pleasure [but] the effect of his writing is less about the images themselves, and more about the way thought works in the human mind.’ Chris Power, The Guardian ‘Murnane’s fantasies are many-layered, and the narration weaves between these and his mundane life in thrillingly long, lyrical sentences.” Christian Lorentzen, London Review of Books


New Yorker

‘A voice that has spoken in an almost unbroken tenor across some fifteen strange and brilliant books; a voice in which one hears a different notion of life’s time than what can be measured by counting the years that elapse from the day of one’s birth to the day of one’s death.’

Lola Seaton
New Statesman

‘This quirky, sometimes fussy valedictory text features enjoyably grouchy dealings with past critics ... and idiosyncratic, mysterious ideas about writing fiction.’

Melissa Harrison
Financial Times

‘An enigmatic author, possibly the best you’ve never heard of . . . His work insists on the reality of the inner world – perhaps even its primacy.’

Melissa Harrison
Financial Times

‘An enigmatic author, possibly the best you’ve never heard of . . . His work insists on the reality of the inner world—perhaps even its primacy.’


Kirkus Reviews, starred review

‘The chief pleasures here are his departures from convention, eccentricities of tone and diction, and flights of fancy, all trademarks of his later fiction. . . An essential entry in this exceptional writer’s corpus.’


New York Times

‘Strange and wonderful and nearly impossible to describe.’  

Dustin Illingworth
New York Times Book Review

‘When looking over the endless paddocks of his fictions, one is also looking out at the mysterious landscape of the soul.’

Shannon Burns
The Monthly

‘The best book about Murnane’s books that anyone is ever likely to write.’

Peter Craven
Australian Book Review

‘Has any writer ever paraded his aesthetic privacies so shamelessly? It doesn’t matter. These are the ravings of a genius. Ignore them if you dare, literature-besotted unraveller.’


Praise for Gerald Murnane

‘Murnane, a genius, is a worthy heir to Beckett.’      Teju Cole

‘The emotional conviction…is so intense, the sombre lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiselled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.’ J. M. Coetzee

‘An enigmatic author, possibly the best you’ve never heard of . . . His work insists on the reality of the inner world – perhaps even its primacy.’ Melissa Harrison, Financial Times

‘Immediately arresting . . . Murnane’s writing exhibits what literature should: an insight into a way of seeing that is quite unlike our own.’ John Self, Irish Times

‘As with Proust, the specificities of the images he pursues and catalogues provide their own pleasure [but] the effect of his writing is less about the images themselves, and more about the way thought works in the human mind.’ Chris Power, The Guardian

‘Murnane’s fantasies are many-layered, and the narration weaves between these and his mundane life in thrillingly long, lyrical sentences.” Christian Lorentzen, London Review of Books

Chris Power
The Guardian

'This extraordinary piece of writing quivers on the same line between inspiration and mania that many of the stories do, and delivers a strain of exhilaration I have only encountered through the work of Gerald Murnane.’

Chris Power
The Guardian

'This extraordinary piece of writing quivers on the same line between inspiration and mania that many of the stories do, and delivers a strain of exhilaration I have only encountered through the work of Gerald Murnane.’

John Self
Irish Times

'Immediately arresting.'

Ben Lerner
New Yorker

‘Murnane’s sentences are little dialectics of boredom and beauty, flatness and depth. They combine a matter-of-factness, often approaching coldness, with an intricate lyricism.’

J.M. Coetzee
New York Review of Books

‘[For Murnane,] access to the other world – a world distinct from and in many ways better than our own – is gained neither by good works nor by grace but by giving the self up to fiction.’


The New York Times

‘Strange and wonderful and nearly impossible to describe.’

John Self
Irish Times

‘Murnane’s writing exhibits what literature should: an insight into a way of seeing that is quite unlike our own.'

J.M. Coetzee

‘As a writer, Murnane is [thus] a radical idealist.’ J.M. Coetzee

Adrian Nathan West
Times Literary Supplement

‘As Murnane remarks, “My writing was not an attempt to produce something called literature but an attempt to discover meaning”, and his insistence on the artifice of written enterprise bears witness to a thoroughness and integrity that far outweigh the minor virtue – or minor vice – of readability.’

Benjamin H, Ogden
The New York Times

‘A voice so clear, so unaffected, that it’s a voice for everyone.’


The New Republic

‘The sentences are laid on like varnish, coat after coat, until the text gleams with a high shine. Immaculate in its unadorned plainness, at certain moments his prose achieves a crystalline beauty.’

Melissa Harrison
The Financial Times

'His work insists on the reality of the inner world — perhaps even its primacy.'

Claire-Louise Bennett
author of Pond

'I read Border Districts gripped by that pensive elation which alerted me to great writers when I was a reader in my adolescence. That he can bring that most precious sensation up through me now must mean that Murnane is a writer of utmost brilliance.'

Christian Lorentzen
London Review of Books

‘Murnane’s fantasies are many-layered, and the narration weaves between these and his mundane life in thrillingly long, lyrical sentences.’

Jon Day
The Guardian

‘An authentically modernist novel ... Its themes, as well as its technique, place him in the tradition of Katherine Mansfield and James Joyce’

Daniel Swift
The Spectator

'Tamarisk Row is a remarkably acute portrayal of what it is to be a bullied, confused boy, while Border Districts is dazzling for its austerity, its cruel purity. Their sentences ring in the ear, and the novels stay with you.'

Chris Power
The New Statesman

'From a boy following Bassett Creek to an old man patrolling the borderlands, Murnane’s books are expeditions that encompass a territory unlike any other.'

Chris Power
The New Statesman

'From a boy following Bassett Creek to an old man patrolling the borderlands, Murnane’s books are expeditions that encompass a territory unlike any other.'

Daniel Swift
The Spectator

'Tamarisk Row is a remarkably acute portrayal of what it is to be a bullied, confused boy, while Border Districts is dazzling for its austerity, its cruel purity. Their sentences ring in the ear, and the novels stay with you.'

Jon Day
The Guardian

‘Strange and luminous ... His books ... (are) really about the mind behind (their) characters: the singular, fascinating consciousness that gives them life.’

Claire Lowdon
Sunday Times

‘Impressive, sustained attention is paid to this strange dream-zone of childhood’

Claire Lowdon
Sunday Times

‘Border Districts excavates a fascinating subject: the experience of encountering fiction, and what our minds unconsciously conjure for us as we read.’ ‘Murnane's books persuasively insist that the amorphous contest of our minds are as real as external “reality”’

J.M. Coetzee
New York Review of Books

‘[For Murnane,] access to the other world – a world distinct from and in many ways better than our own – is gained neither by good works nor by grace but by giving the self up to fiction.’


New York Times

‘Strange and wonderful and nearly impossible to describe.’


Paris Review

‘Murnane has proven, over four decades and some dozen books, to be one of [Australia’s] most original and distinctive writers.’

Teju Cole

‘A genius.’


New York Times Magazine

‘The greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of . . . The next Nobel Laureate in Literature.’

Teju Cole

‘Murnane, a genius, is a worthy heir to Beckett.’

Ben Lerner on Gerald Murnane
The New Yorker

‘Murnane’s sentences are little dialectics of boredom and beauty, flatness and depth. They combine a matter-of-factness, often approaching coldness, with an intricate lyricism.’

M. A. Orthofer

‘Murnane's writing is carefully, thoughtfully worded, his deliberations seemingly open, even as there's obviously much more hidden care and attention behind it.'

Benjamin H. Ogden
New York Times

‘An image in Murnane’s prose has the quality of an image in coloured glass: One both sees the image and sees through the image simultaneously.’


Washington Post

‘Murnane’s is a vision that blesses and beatifies every detail ... Fascinating . . . Relentlessly introspective but dependably playful.’


Kirkus

'An old man ruminates on landscapes and houses, authors and religion, colored glass and memory in this drifting quasi-fiction. The unnamed narrator, age 72, has recently moved from a city to live alone in a 'quiet township' near an unspecified border in an unnamed country. In the opening pages, he recalls his school days and the religious brothers who taught him.'

Sam Sacks
Wall Street Journal

'Border Districts, with more room to expand, feels less formally oppressive while still holding the author’s signature moments of crystalline detail and uncanny observation. (...) The sequences are inscrutable and resistant to interpretation.'


Publishers Weekly

'Devotees of Murnane (The Plains), the exacting Australian writer of crafty, austere fictions, will find familiar themes in this prismatic work: the fascination with color, the grassy landscapes, and the obsessive compiling of a mind's 'image-history.' The aged narrator, a 'student of colors and shades and hues and tints, ' has retired to a 'district near the border' of his unnamed native land. There he explores the regions of his psyche with a monklike devotion, 'study[ing] in all seriousness matters that another person might dismiss as unworthy, trivial, childish.''


Sydney Morning Herald

‘To give over to [Border Districts’] demands, to its way of making the familiar strange, is to open oneself to the delicate power of its rhythms, the haunting depth of its images, and the irrefutable craftsmanship in every sentence.’

Peter Craven
The Australian

'His new book, Border Districts, is weird in the way everything he has published is weird. It possesses the peculiar quality of being intimately familiar and unidentifiable. (...) Border Districts is a bit like a Wordsworthian epic in quasi-lyrical mode that has been translated from the Hungarian and reconfigured as an old codger’s attempt to find his fragments in his ruins and to adjust to his obsessions a language of maniacal precision and blindness. (...) This is a book that refuses to name names, and its elaborate winding stair will preserve the wonder of a sensibility at the edge of solipsism. (...) You will not find a more intimate or more lame or more deeply wrought piece of fiction anywhere in the world.'

Helen Elliot
The Monthly

'Border Districts is a devotional manuscript in which the intention is not the divine but a recuperation, even a restoration, of self. It is thrilling. Nothing happens, everything happens.'


Australian Book Review on Gerald Murnane

‘[The] Nobel Prize contender writes like a clockmaker: every sentence is a finely tooled cog, every book an exquisite machine.’

Adrian Nathan West
Times Literary Supplement

‘As Murnane remarks, “My writing was not an attempt to produce something called literature but an attempt to discover meaning”, and his insistence on the artifice of written enterprise bears witness to a thoroughness and integrity that far outweigh the minor virtue – or minor vice – of readability.’

Lidija Haas
Harper's Magazine

‘Murnane, in his unfailingly serious way, is very funny. We read and think about him ruminating on his reading and thinking about reading and thinking until the book rather gloriously threatens to swallow itself whole.’

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