Dexter down under

Dexter down under
Finding overseas Australiana for the collection
20 May 2014

The National Library aims to comprehensively collect works published by Australians or about Australia. For items published in Australia, we have legal deposit to help us in this task. However we also undertake the even greater challenge of trying to track down those elusive Australian authors/illustrators (including expats) whose works have been published overseas, either in English or in translation. In addition, we search for works about Australia that are published by overseas authors. In our global hunt it is amazing what we find!

We recently became aware of a new five part mini-series of the Marvel comic Dexter that is set in Australia called Dexter down under. So of course we had to acquire it for our collection. The first two issues in the series have been published, with the remaining three due for release over the coming months.

Dexter down under issues

Issues 1 and 2 of Dexter down under

Our cataloguers joked when the first issue arrived that the “down under” episodes of movies, TV series etc. always seem to be set either around Sydney Harbour, the Great Barrier Reef or in the Outback. Never anything in Canberra we grumbled. Well, imagine our surprise and delighted laughter when we randomly opened up the pages of the first issue of Dexter down under and saw an illustration captioned “Canberra Police HQ. Office of Captain Gower”! Yes, our very own Australian Federal Police officers are involved in the Dexter hunt!

Page from Dexter down under

Canberra police featured in Dexter down under

The next issue in the series does revert to the stereotype and is set in the outback. Still, a lot of fun for our staff doing the cataloguing – and naturally they had to read the entire story to enable them to catalogue it.

The Library holds many other examples of books about Australia written overseas, ranging from academic analysis, comparative studies, travel books, to novels and children’s books. Just two recently acquired examples are:

Tussen de druiven : vier seizoenen in een Australische wijngaard. Film Journalist Remke de Lange swapped the Amsterdam cinemas for an Australian vineyard. She spent a year in the McLaren Vale as a guest at the Gemtree winery learning to make wine and experiencing life in Australia.

Kraaienwacht : een gevorkt verhaal over migranten en moderne kunstenaars in Australië. The personal story of Inez van der Spek's migration with her family to Australia in 1960 and their eventual return to the Netherlands. In the second part of the book the author tells the story of two Aboriginal artists and their lives as indigenous Australians, viewed from the works created by them.

Kraaienwacht cover

Cover of Kraaienwacht by Inez van der Spek

To test our sleuthing skills further, Australian authors have published their works far and wide and been translated into many languages. We make every effort to find them. For example just a taste of some Australian authors published overseas in English:

Captain Long Ears by Diana Thung, who was born in Indonesia but now lives in Australia.

Literacy and language in East Asia: shifting meanings, values and approaches by Marilyn Kell and Peter Kell from Charles Darwin University.

House of Odd written by Landry Q. Walker and Dean Koontz ; illustrations by Queenie Chan. Queenie is an Australian manga artist and graphic novelist.

It is fascinating to see the range of material being translated and the languages involved. Did you know that we hold books by Peter Carey translated into a total of 28 different languages? These include Bengali, Lithuanian, Norwegian and Catalan

True history of the Kelly gang

Cover of the Bengali edition of  Carey's The true history of the Kelly Gang

Peter Singer’s How are we to live? : ethics in an age of self-interest, has been translated into Chinese

Gabrielle Lord’s young adult series Conspiracy 365 has been translated into Indonesian and many other languages.

So with all this international Australian publishing activity, we need your help! If you know of any works by Australians or about Australia published overseas, and a search of our catalogue indicates they are not held by the Library, please let us know by emailing You will be making a great contribution to building our national collection!

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