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M J Hyland's Biography

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M.J.Hyland (Maria Joan Hyland) was born in London in June 1968 to Irish parents. Her mother was from Wexford stock and her father from a Dublin working-class family.

When Maria Hyland was two, the family moved to Sydney. They moved numerous times, sometimes living in sheds and garages. When M J Hyland was five the family moved from Sydney to Dublin - and then at eleven it was back to Australia again!
M J Hyland describes in vivid yet tragic words the state of her father:

" ... still an alcoholic, still a gambler and still, technically speaking, a criminal. At the end of 2002, he was released from a Brisbane prison after serving 20 months of a four-year sentence for armed robbery, which makes him sound dangerous and exciting. Far from it. He's five foot nothing, wears thick spectacles, speaks slowly with a broad Dublin accent and is polite to strangers.

"He was 56 at the time of the robbery. He was gambling in Brisbane, and he had run out of money. It was 3am. He walked into a 7-Eleven and handed the girl behind the counter a piece of paper which said: "Give me all your money or I'll shoot you." The girl emptied the till. But he didn't think he had enough, so he walked to the nearest McDonald's, went up to the counter, and handed the same note to the girl who asked for his order: 'Give me all your money or I'll shoot you' ..."

The article goes on to describe how her father abused her mother and how, whilst he was in prison, M J Hyland became a Mormon but was excommunicated for drinking and smoking.

Hyland then went through a transformation. She had short stories published and edited a literary magazine, Nocturnal Submissions. She completed a degree at the University of Melbourne in 1996 and was a lawyer for six years.

M J Hyland's first novel How The Light Gets In was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and in 2004 she also won the Sydney Morning Herald Award for Best Australian Novelist. 2004 was also the year she gained an MA in English at the University of Melbourne.

Carry Me Down is Hyland's second novel and was nominated for a Booker in 2006.

The Times review of Carry Me Down said: "In beautifully detailed and understated prose, Hyland's meditation on the nature of falsehood uncovers precious truths at every turn."

Whereas The Guardian had a different view: "The narrative is one-paced and somewhat meandering, with many repetitive and redundant scenes, particularly towards the end. A mild, ghoulish curiosity kept me turning the pages, but the novel's tidy resolution left me with more questions than answers."

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