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They're a Weird Mob

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  618 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Giovanni 'Nino' Culotta is an Italian immigrant, who comes to Australia as a journalist, employed by an Italian publishing house, to write articles about Australians and their way of life for those Italians that might want to emigrate to Australia.

In order to learn about real Australians, Nino takes a job as a brickie's labourer with a man named Joe Kennedy. The comedy of
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published 1989 (first published 1957)
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Colleen O'grady
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Seeing as how my father wrote this book, what would I think? Hilariously funny and has recently been re-published again by Text publishers and a very clever Dad. it is the story of Nino, who finds himself in the embarrassing situation of trying to communicate with Australians, priding himself on the fact that he spoke English. But you see...there is English and their is 'English' of the Australian kind.
Most Australians speak English like I speak Hindustani, which I don’t. In general, they use English words, but in a way that makes no sense to anyone else. And they don’t use our European vowel sounds, so that even if they do construct a normal sentence, it doesn’t sound like one. This made it necessary for me, until I become accustomed to it, to translate everything that was said to me twice, first into English and then into Italian. So my replies were always slow, and those long pauses prompte ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They’re a Weird Mob is the first book by John O’Grady writing under the pseudonym Nino Culotta, and purports to tell the tale of Nino, an Italian journalist sent to Australia to write articles about the country and her people for Italians to read. Nino has learned English, so he shouldn’t have a problem, his boss thinks. But English, Nino finds, is not Australian. As Nino experiences true Aussie culture in the form of Kings Bloody Cross, labouring for a brickie, drinking in the pub, picking a fi ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a funny and clever book. I had read it many years ago, but I still laughed all over again when I chose it for the Read Around Australia challenge. Insightful and accurate about the Australian character, it is a forerunner to the delights of comedians like Paul Hogan when he first climbed down from Sydney Harbour Bridge.
If only we had more migrants like Nino Culotta who so enthusiastically embraced his new life.
Cita Firdausy
Howsthebookgoin' mate orright? orright, i exclaimed. 3.5 stars cause it's funny.
Big Pete
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
As an Aussie, I can proudly proclaim this as 'a fair-dinkum classic'. Sadly, hardly anyone under the age of forty says 'fair dinkum' anymore. they're a weird mob is a hilarious tale of a likable Italian migrant named Nino Culotta trying to understand the lingo we spoke Downunder in the '50s and '60s. He mixes with bricklayers, policemen, lifesavers, makes friends, learns the language, engages in fisticuffs, gets married and makes a niche for himself in Oz. Most of the slang used at the time has ...more
Text Publishing
‘A riotous comedy.’

‘Nino Culotta encouraged Australians to laugh at themselves, while providing a walloping hint for the ‘New Australians’ who were gracing our shores: ‘Get yourself accepted…and you will enter a world that you never dreamed existed,’ he wrote. ‘And once you have entered it, you will never leave it.’ The book remains just as relevant today: Weird Mob is about good people trying to make a go of things. With its rollicking and affectionate humour, it showcases our manners, our w
Margaret Sharp
"They're a Weird Mob" is not the sort of book I normally read.
Its strongest point lies in its marvellous evocation of the language of the blue-collar worker: in this case, the bricklayer.
The well-educated Italian hero, Nino, accepts work as a brickie. His language skills contrast beautifully with those of his work-mates who speak in broadest Australian. There is humour throughout the tale. I particularly enjoyed the story of Nino's efforts at courtship: wonderfully unconventional and yet remark
Shane Moore
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this light-hearted glimpse of the culture of working-class 1950's Australia. The characters are caricatures rather than stereotypes, especially the Italian narrator, so don't expect realism. Instead, prepare for something short, easy to read, and funny.

Surprisingly, there are a few moments of depth addressing racism and anti-immigrant bigotry interwoven with the book's humor, and they're appropriately tasteful.
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
What is an Australian? Being married to one, this is a question I often ask myself. This very funny book, actually written by an Australian journalist using the pseudonym of an Italian immigrant, attempts to answer that question, at least in the 1950s. Thoroughly enjoyable, often hysterically funny, but also very true about Australia and Australians.
Simon McKenzie
I really enjoyed everything up to the last chapter - a light, but very funny look at Australian language and culture in the '50s.

What I didn't enjoy was the last chapter, when it turned into a piece of propaganda, ending with a call to "New Australians" to assimilate.
Mad funny :) The trials of an Italian in 1960s Australia, where suddenly everyone speaks rather different English to what he learned from textbooks! I loved when he was learning the use of 'bloody' and cheerfully asked a cabbie to take him to King's Bloody Cross.
review soon
☼♄Jülie 
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to ☼♄Jülie  by: Librarian
Laughed myself to tears!!! I was in absolute stitches from start to finish!
Andy Hickman
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
“They're a Weird Mob” by Nino Culotta (John O'Grady)

This book is iconic. I laughed so much reading. The best quotes I haven't had time to type up, but so many of the characters I have seen personified in the Aussies that I have known. ****
- -

“There is no better way of life in the world than that of the Australian. I firmly believe this. The grumbling, growling, cursing, profane, laughing, beer drinking, abusive, loyal-to-his-mates Australian is one of the few free men left on this earth. He fea
Le koala Lit
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
John O’Grady dit 'Nino Culotta' écrit They’re a weird mob (que l’on peut traduire par Quel drôle de peuple) en 1957. O' Grady s'est fait passé pour un immigrés italien pour écrire ce livre. Il nous parle avec beaucoup d'humour des australiens. Nino Culotta, le héro, est un personnage naïf est très attachant. Je vous livre plus bas quelques extraits.

Un peu de contexte : Pendant la ruée vers l’or (deuxième moitié du 19e siècle), de nombreux européens ont immigré en Australie à la recherche d’une v
Lorry Rule
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Being a fellow Migrant to Australia I could empathise with many of the situations of miscommunication that Nino found himself in. Full of wonderful insights, and such light hearted comedy, it was difficult to find any negative attributes. After the initial hurdle of language used, I found this Novel a really good read. *****
Amanda Wells
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely made me laugh out loud, and was a good snapshot into some Aussie-isms, and being a migrant in 1970s Sydney.
Not entirely unproblematic- as you'd expect for a book of its time, but I fondly enjoyed it.
Sri Gopalan
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite funny account of an Italian migrant in 50s Australia. Makes great use of the Australian vernacular. If you have the opportunity, listen to the audio book. The accents make it really funny.

A quick read, and a bit politically incorrect for today's standards, but a great read nonetheless.
Rupert Grech
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of the writing seems a little racist to modern sensibilities, but taken with an historical perspective, an enjoyable read. The last chapter spoiled it a little for me. My Maltese parents thought that the movie was hilarious- racist bits and all.
Jacqueline Beal
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very funny
I.G. Roberts
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the humour. It reminded me of a simpler time.
Rik Schnabel
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a fun read. A brilliant sneak peak into the Australian culture of old.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Great book and every new Australian - and Australian - should read the last chapter a few times to truly understand the Australian character.
Kirsty Leishman
"Australians like giving people tea and advice. The tea is always very good, and sometimes the advice too."

They're a Weird Mob is a fish-out-of-water story, where Nino Culotta, an Italian journalist, is sent by his boss to report on the people and customs of Australia, a country to which many Italians emigrated after World War II. While it was first received as a 'snapshot of the immigrant experience' in Australia, effectively it's an Anglo-Australian's version of the post-war immigrant experien
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
John O'Grady (Nino Culotta) is and will always be my favourite author for very good reason. His words can pull me out of any rut and leave me laughing out loud. With such a beautiful way of speaking and "built like a brick sh!thouse," Nino had gone to the very best schools in Italy to learn how to properly speak English. This works in Nino's favour when his boss decides to send Nino to Australia to see what their people are really like. The problem is that English and Australian English are not ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Taught me how to eat spaghetti the proper, Italian way.

Later I found out that the book was actually written by an Irishman, and that real Italians over the age of five don't eat pasta that way at all.

I read this because of the movie, which was about Sydney in a time when nothing on TV was about Australia except the news, and I had not long before found out that I didn't actually live in America, despite what my TV had so insistently implied. This revelation made, I was intrigued by this place I
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
They're a Weird Mob was such a delightful story to read. For being such a short story, i was very surprised at how long it took me to read. Basicallly, it's about an Italian, Nino, who works for an Italian magazine. He is sent to Australia to live and to write articles about living in Australia. As a new immigrant he soon discovers that the Australians have their own lingo and customs and he finds he either doesn't understand what is being said or he is totally misunderstood. Since the book is m ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story of Nino Culottta who emigrates to Australia and his missadventures there in the land of English speakers (but not as he know it) Particularly funny are some of the scrapes he gets into due to his inappropriate use or inadequate knowledge of Australian slang.
Though in Italy he was a journalist in Aus he gets a job as a builders labourer and this takes him into the heart of a family business with more hilarious scenes.

A very funny book and there is a funny film of the same name that yo
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Anglo guy writes book. Wanks on about ocker utopia. Tells migrants how they should act. While pretending to be an Italian journalist.

Despite this underlying premise, and the nauseating passages that touch on these themes, there are some funny and interesting insights into how (Anglo-)Australian men saw themselves in the 50s. And I also enjoyed the references to places that I was familiar with (a lot of it is set around Bankstown and Punchbowl).

But as I said, the whole wogface thing. Just, no.
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Nino Culotta is a pen name of John O'Grady.