Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Delinquents by Criena Rohan


When poet Peter Bakowski visited the UK last year, he very kindly presented me with a reprinted edition of the Australian writer Criena Rohan's wonderful short novel 'The Delinquents' - which was first published in London back in 1962.

Thanks Peter - I loved it, and being a passionate collector of vintage paperbacks, I was intrigued to see what the very first soft cover edition of 'The Delinquents' looked like - as up to now it had not found its way onto the web. Well finally I've tracked down Panther Book number 1638, which came out two years after the Gollancz hardback edition. 

For starters, the author of this classic book is the pseudonym of Melbourne-born Deirdre Cash (1924-1963), who worked as a torch singer and ballroom dancing teacher before turning to full-time writing. Taut social realism, with gritty authenticity, The Delinquents is the tale of Brownie and Lola, young and in love, but up against the stifling conventions of 1950s Brisbane as well as mothers, welfare officers and the cops. The book was made into a so-so film in 1989, in Queensland, with a 20 year old Kylie Minogue playing teen Lola. 

Forget the film, this book deserves every bit of the critical acclaim and recognition from all those Australian writers who still champion the work over 50 years on from its publication. Tragically, Deirdre Cash, only got to write one more novel before dying at just 38 years old. I know neither who illustrated the cover, nor how long the paperback remained in print for, and nor how many people bought the book at the time. But right away it was hailed as "a real find".

Panther Books, published by Hamilton & Co. Brompton Road, London SW3 in February 1964

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