Their Brilliant Careers: The Lives of Sixteen Remarkable Australian Writers
Shortlisted for the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award
Absurd, original and highly addictive . . .
In Their Brilliant Careers, Ryan O'Neill has written a hilarious novel in the guise of sixteen biographies of (invented) Australian writers. Meet Rachel Deverall, who discovered the secret source of the great literature of our time - and paid a terrible price for her discovery. Meet Rand Washington, hugely popular sci-fi author (of Whiteman of Cor) and inveterate racist. Meet Addison Tiller, master of the bush yarn, "The Chekhov of Coolabah," who never travelled outside Sydney.
Their Brilliant Careers is a playful set of stories, linked in many ways, which together form a memorable whole. A wonderful comic tapestry of the writing life, this unpredictable and intriguing work takes Australian writing in a whole new direction . . .
Shortlisted, 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
'You have to admire O'Neill's delicious bravura. He's been one of the few short fiction writers of recent years willing to play around with the form's possibilities ... Apart from the fact there are more funny lines in O'Neill's 288 pages than there are likely to be in the entirety of Australian literature elsewhere this year, the profiles are woven smartly together, as the characters' fates and careers intertwine.' -Saturday Paper
'Ryan O'Neill combines conventions of biography and short story in an exhaustively brazen blend of Australian literary history and plausible yet gloriously bonkers invention.' -Elke Power, Readings Monthly
'Their Brilliant Careers ... brims with crackerjack wit. Pressure is subtly built; punchlines are explosive.' -Australian Book Review
'Ryan O'Neill has embarked on the task of creating a satirical, funny alternative history to Australian literature, an exercise he has achieved admirably and with brilliance.' -Writers Bloc
' Ryan O'Neill] offers a book that is a piss-take, a celebration, a revisionist history and, perhaps most impressively, exceedingly good fun.' -Dominic Amerena, the Australian
'O'Neill has arranged a beautiful board of slain waxwings, no less funny or moving for being, in the final estimate of things, no more than shadows of the never living and the forever dead.' -Adam Rivett, Sydney Morning Herald
Ryan O'Neill is the author of The Weight of a Human Heart. He was born in Glasgow in 1975 and has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia before settling in Newcastle, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. His fiction has appeared in The Best Australian Stories, The Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin, New Australian Stories, Wet Ink, Etchings and Westerly. His work has won the Hal Porter and Roland Robinson awards and been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Steele Rudd Award and the Age Short-Story Prize. He teaches at the University of Newcastle.
2017 Prime Minister's Literary Award Winner for Fiction.