The story of Michael Doolan and his development to manhood is appropriately set against the wide background of the Gulf Country in the north of Australia For Michael s growth from childhood and adolescence, and his long search for his father, Paddy Doolan, is told with a largeness of dimension that is one of the most striking features of this excellent novel Elizabeth O Conner is well known for her light hearted and deservedly popular book, Steak for Breakfast In this novel she has moved on to a subject that gives scope to her unquestioned powers Michael is disturbed in childhood by the conflicts that his father seems inevitably to generate in his family relationships and with his fellow townsmen When, later, his living as a teamster is threatened by the advent of motor transport, Paddy Doolan goes to the coast to sell his team, and Michael, realizing that his father will never return, sets out on his long search for him Michael s inarticulate, determined development is emphasized by his father s inherent weaknesses, and also by the decline of the township where they live before the family breaks up The gold mines give out, the town declines in prosperity, and its people drift away It is as though the fortunes of most of the people in the book are shaped and broken by time, whereas Michael, monosyllabic, loyal, and stubborn, shapes his own fortunes Elizabeth O Conner s sense of the dramatic is balanced by her sensitivity and compassion as she traces the fine threads that bind character to character Of The Irishman, Eleanor Dark says Elizabeth O Conner has the gift of conveying much in a few words without elaborate analysis, she creates real people, and without overmuch description, she shows a vivid and authentic scene The perception, tolerance and humour with which she tells her story and reveals her characters make this a book which is often moving, but never sentimental From the dust jacket Winner of the 1960 Miles Franklin award With that I have enjoyed this coming of age tale but do have some thoughts that it may not have made the long list let alone won in thisenlightened age.There are several themes running through this book The aforementioned coming of age Changing technology Alcoholism and how it effects ones relationship with one s family, friends and work colleagues There is also racism and racist language The changing of technology, the coming of age, alcoholis Winner of the 1960 Miles Franklin award With that I have enjoyed this coming of age tale but do have some thoughts that it may not have made the long list let alone won in thisenlightened age.There are several themes running through this book The aforementioned coming of age Changing technology Alcoholism and how it effects ones relationship with one s family, friends and work colleagues There is also racism and racist language The changing of technology, the coming of age, alcoholism and the effect on family and friends is woven into the story in a seamless manner that makes this generally dialog driven book an easy read When Teamsters are replaced by the motor vehicle, an already heavy drinking teamster is driven further into the depths of his despair by leaving the town and his family to live a past life The youngest son goes on a search for him that takes many years With that we see the son grow from a school boy to a man With that come the various trials and tribulations that he has to deal with In truth a story from any age The racist language in the book This language was the language of the times In this case the gulf country of north Queensland circa 1920 s I have had a discussion with my wife She is of the opinion that modern readers should not let themselves get too uncomfortable and accept that language for what it was, rural Australia in the 1920 s But I admit I just struggled The use of terms such as nigger and gin had me squirming, by nature I would never use these terms to describe Australian indigenous people let alone anyone else Language such as that goes against the grain I can hardly be too critical of my wife for her opinion She escaped a very small country town in Queensland during the mid 1980 s, one reason being the inherent racism But as she told me the term gin was used in everyday talk with hardly a murmur I still feel uncomfortable with those terms nonetheless At one point in the story an indigenous girl commits suicide after being rejected by the boy who has got her pregnant After only a small feeling of guilt the boy involved moves on so rapidly to not caring it is a shock to me as the reader The racist language and the racist attitude Just part of life As one reads the book further the day to day racism appears as naturally as the sun rising each day Indigenous people are used as cheap labour and generalised as no hopers I found this book hard to find initially but finally found a battered copy in thrift shop I see that it has not been republished since the late 1970 s In my opinion that is a pity It deserves a modern Australian reader to read about the issues of the past that are not that far removed from those of the present It may also need a new reader to understand that the changes that have occurred to Australian language since this books release in 1960 The author Elizabeth O Conner according to her wiki lived on a cattle station in Queensland s gulf country in 1942 were she raised four children I have no doubt she has articulated gulf country attitudes in her story, natural racism, heavy drinking and innate conservatism Times have changed and for the better in my opinion Recommended for those with an interest in Australian literature Elizabeth O Conner 1913 2000 was the fourth winner of the fledgling Miles Franklin literary award, and the first woman to win the prize The Irishman s win in 1960 would have pleased Miles Franklin it is a quintessentially Australian story set in the Gulf country It celebrates what we might call bush character stoicism, courage, self discipline and determination O Conner won the prize in 1960, in the years of postwar prosperity and well before the Swinging Sixties challenged long establi Elizabeth O Conner 1913 2000 was the fourth winner of the fledgling Miles Franklin literary award, and the first woman to win the prize The Irishman s win in 1960 would have pleased Miles Franklin it is a quintessentially Australian story set in the Gulf country It celebrates what we might call bush character stoicism, courage, self discipline and determination O Conner won the prize in 1960, in the years of postwar prosperity and well before the Swinging Sixties challenged long established s across the globe Cities in Australia were being transformed by post war immigration from Europe and by the growth in manufacturing which was driven by the sudden availability of cheap labour The Irishman, however, explores a different period of transition O Conner was writing about what was already a vanished era the inter war years when bush life was being transformed by the arrival of the motor vehicle in the early 1920s While at one level it s an engaging coming of age story, it is also the story of a remote community confronting decline.To read the rest of my review please visit Reading this was part of a project I set myself in 2004 to read all the Miles Franklin Award Winners before the winner was announced in 2007 for the prize s 50th anniversary It was a tough call to get hold of all the novels and to get through them all, but I did it.This is one of the weaker novels that has won this prize I think that in the early days of the award, the quality of the winners was a bit variable That said, it s still worth reading.