Author Andrew McGahan has faced his cancer diagnosis head-on.
Author Andrew McGahan has faced his cancer diagnosis head-on.

Queensland author has weeks to live

ACCLAIMED Queensland author Andrew McGahan has just weeks to live after being diagnosed earlier this year with aggressive pancreatic cancer.

McGahan, 52, born in Dalby, rose to national fame with his first novel Praise and cemented his reputation with The White Earth, which won Australia's top literary award - the Miles Franklin - in 2005.

He was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in July after suffering abdominal pains.

His agent, Fiona Inglis, of Curtis Brown literary agents in Sydney, said McGahan, despite having just weeks to live, was showing extreme courage in the face of his illness, and was putting the final touches to a new novel.

"We were shocked to learn of Andrew's stage IV cancer diagnosis but have been full of admiration for the way he has faced it head-on," Inglis said.

"He talks about cancer and death, no euphemisms or platitudes. He says he is not scared of dying, only of leaving Liesje, his long-term partner.

"He is working on the edits of his final book when energy allows, enjoying the process of refining and shaping what will be part of his lasting legacy."

That book, The Rich Man's House, is a thriller set in Tasmania and will be published early next year.

McGahan, based in Melbourne, settled in the Victorian capital several years ago.

Despite his acclaim, McGahan famously eschewed the so-called "literati" set, writers' festivals, awards ceremonies and publishing soirees throughout his career and rarely gave interviews.

His classic novel Last Drinks, set in Queensland in the post-Fitzgerald era, examined the dark side of life in the Sunshine State and the legacy of endemic corruption.

His masterpiece The White Earth, set on Queensland's Darling Downs, was a cultural phenomenon, igniting debate about native title. It was published internationally and adapted for the stage.

McGahan published all of his work, including a series of young adult adventure stories, with Allen & Unwin.

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