"A bogan flaneur: part connoisseur, part anthropologist of the rich and fractious field of difference through which he moves." — Geordie Williamson, The Australian
Luke Carman is an Australian fiction writer, essayist and academic. He is known for his collection of semi-autobiographical stories, An Elegant Young Man. The stories are set in Liverpool, Australia, a suburb outside Sydney. He has been called a post-grunge lit writer, a reference to an Australian literary genre from the 2000s which emerged following the 1990s grunge lit genre.
His first book, An Elegant Young Man, won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing. The book is a collection of inter-linked, semi-autobiographical short stories.
Intimate Antipathies, a collection of Luke's essays on the ordinary madness of the writing life, was published in July 2019 by Giramondo.
An Ordinary Ecstasy, a new collection of short stories, is due out from Giramondo in July 2022.
Luke is a casual academic at Western Sydney University's Writing And Society Research Centre. In 2014, the Sydney Morning Herald named him the Best Young Novelist. One of his stories, "Liverpool Boys", is used in the SBS podcast series entitled True Stories, which showcases what SBS calls "Australia’s best emerging and early-career writers." He has published in HEAT, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Southerly, Cultural Studies Review, and just about everywhere else.
A new collection of stories by the award-winning author of An Elegant Young Man and Intimate Antipathies.
The seven stories that make up An Ordinary Ecstasy explore the lives of people whose days are awash with enigma, wonder, and epiphany: a musician who rides the winding railway up into the mountains at dusk, the lost retiree who walks the streets of his suburb at dawn, the new lovers who take to their balcony to watch surfers make their incisions in the surging waves. There are middle-aged men in need of connection, journalists who dream of wild fancies while smiling and nodding through the drudgery of interviews, young couples whose losses are raw, and pass the time in ten-pin bowling.
Carman’s new collection is founded on a principle observed by the novelist Joseph Conrad: ‘There is not a place of splendour or a dark corner of the earth that does not deserve, if only in passing, a glance of wonder.’ In stories of desire, grief, and exaltation, the collection reflects, as its title suggests, on life at its most ordinarily ecstatic – life, in other words, such as it is.
For a long time Western Sydney has been the political flash-point of the nation, but it has been absent from Australian literature. Luke Carman's first book of fiction changes all that: a collection of monologues and stories which tells it how it is on Australia's cultural frontier. His young, self-conscious but determined hero navigates his way through the complications of his divorced family, and an often perilous social world, with its Fobs, Lebbos, Greek, Serbs, Grubby Boys and scumbag Aussies, friends and enemies. He loves Whitman and Kerouac, Leonard Cohen and Henry Rollins, is awkward with girls, and has an invisible friend called Tom. His neighbour Wally tells him he should write a book called How to Be Gay - and now he has. Carman's style is packed with thought and energy: it captures the voices of the street, and conveys fear and anger, beauty and affection, with a restless intensity.
"An Elegant Young Man is street poetry for contemporary Sydney, and it demonstrates what is most exciting and innovative in Australia's emerging writers." - Sydney Morning Herald review
Winner of the UTS Glenda Adams award for new writing at the 2015 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2014 ALS GOLD MEDAL
Intimate Antipathies is a collection of essays on the writing life, offering Luke Carman’s unique comic perspectives on writers’ festivals, residencies and conferences, the particular challenges faced by writers who grow up in contested borderlands like the suburbs of Western Sydney, and the connections between writing and dreaming, writing and mental illness, writing and the complications of family life.
From his famous jeremiad against arts administrators in ‘Getting Square in a Jerking Circle’, through the psychotic attack brought on by the collapse of his marriage, to his surreal account of meeting with Gerald Murnane at a golf club in the remote Victorian village of Goroke, the essays follow the writer in his oscillations through anxiety, outrage and ecstasy — always returning to his great obsession, the home on a small mountain in Sydney’s west, where his antipathies with the real world first began to shape his imagination.
The lives of writers are a topic of perennial fascination to readers – and indeed to other writers. And yet the writer at work is often a mythologised figure, distant from the cares of the day. In Open Secrets, Australian writers reflect upon the material conditions that give rise to their writing practice. What is it that writers do with their days? These essays document writing lives defined as much by procrastination, distraction and economic precarity as by desire and imagination, by aesthetic and intellectual commitments. Labour is at the heart of this collection: creative labour, yes, but also the day jobs, side gigs, and care work that make space for writing. Bringing together an eclectic and distinctive set of writers, Open Secrets is a rich and provocative account of contemporary Australian literature.
The writers included in the collection are Sunil Badami, Vanessa Berry, Miro Bilbrough, Luke Carman, Lauren Carroll Harris, Maddee Clark, Justin Clemens, Lisa Fuller, Elena Gomez, Eda Gunaydin, Tom Lee, James Ley, Fiona Kelly McGregor, Oliver Mol, Suneeta Peres da Costa, Ellena Savage, McKenzie Wark, Laura Elizabeth Woollett and Fiona Wright.
Opening HEAT Series 3 Number 2 is an essay by British novelist Helen Oyeyemi on the ‘electrical wriggle’ that characterises writing at play. New Zealand writer Pip Adam summons e-scooters to life in ‘Unlock to Ride’, and poet Samuel Wagan Watson makes a foray into prose with ‘Min-Min’, a flash of a story. A lovelorn lament set in Sydney’s Blue Mountains by Luke Carman follows; then swooping verse from Melbourne poet Michael Farrell; and, finally, fiction by new writer Ren Arcamone that blends the surreal with the everyday.
Second City presents the diverse literary talents that make Sydney’s western suburbs such a fertile region for writers.
Beginning with Felicity Castagna’s warning about the dangers of cultural labelling, this collection of essays takes resistance against conformity and uncritical consensus as one of its central themes. From Aleesha Paz’s call to recognise the revolutionary act of public knitting, to Sheila Ngoc Pham on the importance of education in crossing social and ethnic boundaries, to May Ngo’s cosmopolitan take on the significance of the shopping mall, the collection offers complex and humane insights into the dynamic relationships between class, culture, family, and love. Eda Gunaydin’s ‘Second City’, from which this collection takes its title, is both a political autobiography and an elegy for a Parramatta lost to gentrification and redevelopment. Zohra Aly and Raaza Jamshed confront the prejudices which oppose Muslim identity in the suburbs, the one in the building of a mosque, the other in the naming of her child. Rawah Arja’s comic essay depicts the complexity of the Lebanese-Australian family, Amanda Tink explores reading Alan Marshall as a child and as an adult, while Martyn Reyes combines the experience of a hike in the Dharawal National Park and an earlier trek in Bangkong Kahoy Valley in the Philippines. Finally, Yumna Kassab’s essay on Jorge Luis Borges reminds us that Western Sydney writing can be represented by no single form, opinion, style, poetics, or state of mind.
Second City is edited by Catriona Menzies-Pike, editor of the Sydney Review of Books and Luke Carman, author of An Elegant Young Man and Intimate Antipathies. It follows The Australian Face, the 2017 collection of critical essays published by the Sydney Review of Books.
Commissioned by New York based N+1 Magazine in January 2020 to write about the impact of the Australian bushfires.
n+1 is a print and digital magazine of literature, culture, and politics published three times a year.
On Australia’s climate crisis
" To those living in nations not yet consumed by fire, flood, or frost, we can report that for the most part, life seems to go on pretty much as it always has. There are some slight adjustments to be made. The morning routine now begins by checking the news to see which of the hundred or so fires raging out of control across the coast have joined forces to become super-fires, and which of these super-fires have united to become mega-fires."
Edited by Anthony Uhlmann
Sydney University Press
Gerald Murnane is one of Australia’s most important contemporary authors, but for years was neglected by critics. In 2018 the New York Times described him as “the greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of” and tipped him as a future Nobel Prize winner.
Gerald Murnane: Another World in This One coincides with a renewed interest in his work. It includes an important new essay by Murnane himself, alongside chapters by established and emerging literary critics from Australia and internationally.
Together they provide a stimulating reassessment of Murnane’s diverse body of work.
For a long time Western Sydney has been the political flash-point of the nation, but it has been absent from Australian literature. Luke Carman's first book of fiction is about to change all that: a collection of monologues and stories which tells it how it is on Australia's cultural frontier. Join the Kill Your Darlings team for a chat with Luke Carman, author of An Elegant Young Man, the festival's book club pick.
Luke Carman speaking at 'Another World in this One: Gerald Murnane’s Fiction' 7 December 2017. A symposium held at Golf Club, Goroke, Victoria. Further details at http://www.formsofworldliterature.com