Archive for the ‘Literary Prizes’ Category

Well the first full day of the SWF 2010 has come and gone and a great day it was too.  (I did enjoy a couple of lunch time lectures earlier in the week at The Mint too).  I went along to four talks today and enjoyed each of them.

1. ‘Celebrating the Australian Accent’ – with Kath Leahy, David Foster & Jeremy Sims (who stood in for Jack Thompson), moderated by Katharine Brisbane. There were plenty of laughs and each speaker added depth to the discussion, which delved into the history of the accent, its transformation from a prim English accent – particularly in public life and broadcasting, through to the various incarnations we have today, including quite distinct regionalised language and delivery. 

2. ‘Tales of Adversity & Survival’ – with US author David Vann who wrote ‘Legend of a Suicide’ about his father’s suicide, Brenda Walker’s memoir Reading by Moonlight which is one of the books of the month on the ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club, and Ross Fitzgerald, who has battled alcoholism and drug dependency and lived to tell the tale (and many others besides).  Each author spoke about the method in which they addressed tragedy, grief and/or illness, which ranged from quite distant or oblique structuring (Vann) through to the very direct (Fitzgerald).  What was clear was that each method seemed perfect for the story they were trying to tell. 

3.  ‘Performing Words’ – in which Jana Wendt discussed the role of music in their respective memoirs with Anna Goldsworthy (Piano Lessons) and Linda Neil (Learning How to Breathe).  Anna played a couple of wonderful piano pieces from Bach & Chopin, and Linda sang a song she had sung with her ill mother in hospital and then played a violin piece she had written whilst in India watching dead bodies float down the Ganges.  This session was excellent with moving performances & insightful discussion of how music informs both writing and life.  What struck me is how these women grew up with music around them and what a powerful force it has been in their lives, with Goldsworthy describing how her music teacher’s piano lessons taught her so much more than music, including great little gems of wisdom on how to live.  Neil described how her mother was a wonderful singer and would cook whilst singing opera!  This was then juxtaposed with her battle with Parkinson’s which stole her voice.  The emotion in the pieces played by both Anna and Linda was infused with these life-long lessons and knowledge, and it was a privilege to be party to some of their thinking and their gift for music. 

4. ‘Judges and Winners’ – a highly entertaining panel discussion, with Colm Toibin (twice a Man Booker Prize bridesmaid, but winner of many other awards including the Dublin IMPAC & also himself a judge on several major literary awards including the Man Asian Prize), Tom Keaneally (winner of Booker for Schindler’s Ark), John Carey (twice Booker Prize Chairperson, including the year Keneally won), Chinese author Su Tong, (he of Raise the Red Lantern fame, and more recently The Boat to Redemption – winner of the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize), moderated by Caroline Baum, herself a regular judge on Australian literary awards.  This discussion was a lot of fun.  It ranged from how on earth does a judge read circa 130 books in what amounts to just a four-month period in the case of the Booker Prize, which amounts to one book per day.  Astonishing!  I favour ‘close reading’, which is slow, so I’d be toast.  There was admissions of judges leaving the room knowing that the best book (in their opinion) hadn’t won (cue gasps from the audience!), judge’s walk-outs, as well as the inside experience of someone shortlisted for the Booker – with all the rigmarole of the presentation dinner – hilariously provided by Colm.  Colm also provided high praise for Su Tong’s book The Boat to Redemption, which sounded so good I bought it at the end of the session.  Tong gave some rare glimpses into the world of Chinese literary scene, including not only dodgy publishers, but street sellers who would copy out recognised authors’ works and sell them passed off as their own work!  Finally, there was all-round agreement on the announcement of  JG Farrell as the winner of the 1970 Lost Booker Prize for his book Troubles, the first of the Empire Trilogy, decided by public voting, with Troubles garnering a clear win with 38% of the vote.  Colm Toibin & John Carey were effusive in praise for a deserved win. 

I had wanted to go to another talk in the mid-afternoon, but not only was that one full by the time I’d had a quick sandwich, but all the rest were full too – clearly a sign of the popularity of the festival.  Otherwise, it was a very entertaining day, with a smaller number of talks on tomorrow and the weekend to come as well.

The D!

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The Miles Franklin Shortlist for 2010 has been announced.  The six novels, with judges comments, are:

 - MFLL10 - lovesong cover_sml   Lovesong
Alex Miller
Allen & Unwin
Read the Judges’ Comments on this novel
 - MFLL10 - Bath Fugues cover_sml   The Bath Fugues
Brian Castro

Giramondo PublishingRead the Judges’ Comments on this novel
 - MFLL10 - jasper jones novel cover_sml   Jasper Jones
Craig Silvey
Allen & Unwin
Read the Judges’ Comments on this novel
 - MFLL10 - The Book of Emmett COVER _sml   The Book of Emmett
Deborah Forster
Random House
Read the Judges’ Comments on this novel
 - MFLL10 - Truth cover_sml   Truth
Peter Temple
Text PublishingRead the Judges’ Comments on this novel
 - MFLL10 - Butterfly cover_sml   Butterfly
Sonya Hartnett

Penguin Group Australia 
Read the Judges’ Comments on this novel  

… and surprise surprise, I haven’t read any of them(!), though Lovesong is on my TBR. 

What are your thoughts?  Any favourites?

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The Lost (1970) Booker Prize Shortlist has been announced.  The six books are:

The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden (Virago)
Troubles by J G Farrell (Phoenix)
The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard (Virago)
Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault (Arrow)
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark (Penguin)
The Vivisector by Patrick White (Vintage)

So Patrick White is still in the running with The Vivisector.  I mused on the irony of his inclusion on the long list because he had refused to be shortlisted for the Booker for The Twyborn Affair in 1979, saying that it should be won by someone young.  (The double irony of this is that the winner was Penelope Fitzgerald, who was just four years younger than he was!). 

And Shirley Hazard, who was born in Australia, is also still in there with a chance for The Bay of Noon

There is no role for the judges from here.  It is up to the public to vote for their favourite on the Man Booker website

It will be interesting to see how this democratic experiment works…!  

The D

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I don’t get too excited by longlists, but both the Miles Franklin and The Orange Prize for Fiction longlists have been announced, and already there are interesting ‘clash of the titans’-type billings in each. 

In the Miles Franklin, heavy-weights Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally lead the list, with some other notable inclusions such as Alex Miller:

Lovesong by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)

The Bath Fugues by Brian Castro (Giramondo Publishing)

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)

Sons of the Rumour by David Foster (Picador)

The Book of Emmett by Deborah Forster (Vintage)

Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest (Vintage)

Boy on a Wire by Jon Doust (Fremantle Press)

Figurehead by Patrick Allington (Black Inc.)

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Hamish Hamilton)

Truth by Peter Temple (Text Publishing)

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett (Penguin)

The People’s Train by Thomas Keneally (Knopf)

In the Orange Prize, will it be another shootout between Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Waters’ The Little Stranger?  Or will someone else surprise?  I know a couple of people who will be cheering Waters on that’s for sure. 

Also, I read a very interesting article by Daisy Goodwin, one of the Orange judges for this year who, after reading 129 entries(!!) has pleaded with authors and publishers to ‘spare us the misery’ and asks the question: where is all the humour?  I couldn’t agree more!  It seems the misery memoir just won’t die. 

The longlist is:

Clare Clark, Savage Lands

Amanda Craig, Hearts and Minds

Roopa Farooki, The Way Things Look to Me

Rebecca Gowers, The Twisted Heart

M.J. Hyland, This is How

Sadie Jones, Small Wars

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna

Laila Lalami, Secret Son

Andrea Levy, The Long Song

Attica Locke, Black Water Rising

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Maria McCann, The Wilding

Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy

Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs

Monique Roffey, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

Amy Sackville, The Still Point

Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger

Now that is a long list!

Also, continuing her remarkable run of success, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in the US. 

Your thoughts?

The D!

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Just announced: There will be a Man Booker Prize for the lost year of 1970, with many notable authors in the running including Patrick White for The Vivisector … (although quite what he would think of this given he refused to accept being shortlisted on the last occasion he was nominated because he wanted ‘someone younger’ to win, is an interesting – but mute – point).  Others in the running include Melvyn Bragg, Ruth Rendell & Iris Murdoch.

See:  http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/stories/1317

The Dilettante

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