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Murray Bail (born 22 September 1941) is an Australian writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction.
He was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He has lived most of his life in Australia except for sojourns in India (1968–70) and England and Europe (1970–74). He currently lives in Sydney.
He was trustee of the National Gallery of Australia from 1976 to 1981, and wrote a book on Australian artist Ian Fairweather.
A portrait of Bail by the artist Fred Williams is hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. The portrait was done while both Williams and Bail were Council members of the National Gallery of Australia.
Australian novelist Murray Bail is most well known for Eucalyptus which won the Miles Franklin Award in 1999. His other work includes the novels Homesickness, which was a joint winner of The Age Book of the Year in 1980, and Holden's Performance, another award-winner. Reviewers recently compared Bail's Notebooks 1970-2003 with Proust, Gide and Valery's. "The Pages" <2008> was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award His latest novel, The Voyage, was released in November 2012.
Laurie Clancy suggests that Bail is, with Peter Carey and Frank Moorhouse, one of the chief innovators in Australian short story writing, and that he was part of its revival in the 1970s. He notes that Bail is particularly interested in the relationship between language and reality and that this is evident in his early short stories. He says "the stories display the strange mixture of surrealist fantasy and broad satire of Australian mores that characterizes all of Bail's work".After early success with short fiction, Bail turned to the novel as a form commensurate to his vision of life's complexity, which emerges in all its perplexing intricacy in "Homesickness". This first novel describes the unscripted, global travels of a group of Australian tourists to diverse museums, real and imaginary. His next book, "Holden's Performance", dealt more overtly with issues of national identity and the diverse forces that shape individual character, while his later novels explored related issues in terms of key binary: in "Eucalyptus" these are empirical knowledge and imagination, in "The Pages" psychology and philosophy. Bail prides himself, rightly, on being a novelist of ideas, who is determined to be audacious in his creations and to challenge reader expectations and complacency.
1980: The Age Book of the Year, joint winner for Homesickness with David Ireland's Woman of the Future
1980: National Book Council Award for Homesickness
1988: Victorian Premier's Literary Award Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction for Holden's Performance
1998: ALS Gold Medal for Eucalyptus
1999: Miles Franklin Award for Eucalyptus
1999: Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Eucalyptus