Alex Miller: migrant writer



Publication Details

Van Teeseling, I. (2012). Alex Miller: migrant writer. In R. Dixon (Eds.), The Novels of Alex Miller: An Introduction (pp. 66-77). Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen and Unwin.


ALEX MILLER, A TWO-TIME winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, has written ten novels, all of them featuring protagonists who are outsiders, often in more ways than one. In most, if not all of them, Miller's narrators grapple with personal and societal questions of alienation. Miller's books offer sophisticated literary investigations into issues relating to the 'ownership' of place and landscape, the impossibility of an uncomplicated identity after migration, the role of history, and the nature of belonging and home. Critical reviews of his work have, over time, acknowledged this presence of migrant themes, but the connection between the migrancy of the writer and the content of his work has hardly ever been noted clearly. In fact, the Oxford Literary History of Australia categorises Miller, a little mystifyingly, as a 'non-migrant Australian writer' (Lever, 325). My argument here is that this is not just factually false, but that reading Miller's work as unproblematically Australian takes the sting out of what he is trying to say, and not just about the migrant experience but about Australia as well.

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