Now we are in the season of missed and mellow fruitfulness. The mellow fruitfulness belongs to the winners of literary awards and literary grants. The missed are those who are eternally short listed but never ascend the throne. Of course, some books shortlisted never have a chance of winning. They are put there for encouragement, minor recognition, sometimes tokenism. Of course, being shortlisted is a welcome form of recognition. Peter Carey won the NBC awards. He was given the odds of 6/4 by our bookmaker, Don Scott, which made him hot favourite. However, The Kurnai of Gippsland, by Phillip Peper and Tess de Araugo came in equal second and the good odds of 50/ l – along with Morris Lurie’s The Night We Ate the Sparrow (6/4). So outsiders do sometimes come in. Good for the NBC. But shortlists do need examining. So do judges and their credentials. So do judges’ reports. I say this with total belief in the credibility of this year’s NBC judges. But this is not always the case with awards. Or with short lists. I had an uncle who achieved a lifelong ambition and ran a horse romantically named The Dentist in the Melbourne Cup. The Dentist was never a possible winner, but he made the shortlist.