Survey | Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews the 1987 National Book Council Awards for Australian Literature shortlist

by
February–March 1987, no. 88

Survey | Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews the 1987 National Book Council Awards for Australian Literature shortlist

by
February–March 1987, no. 88

‘If you can’t say something nice,’ my mother always said, ‘don’t say anything at all.’ (I pinch this opening gambit, shamelessly, from Kate Grenville’s Self-Portrait in the last ABR, and hope she does not mind; imitation is the sincerest form etc.) Apropos of parental expectations regarding niceness-or-silence, however, I am reminded of a remark of Elizabeth Jolley’s: ‘I think my mother wanted a princess, and she got me instead.’

All of which is to say that, were this piece a standard book review, I would feel obliged – in the interests of objective judgement, intellectual rigour and such – to look for at least one mildly negative thing to say about each of these books. This, however, is not your basic book review but rather an occasional and celebratory piece which turns a benign eye on the six books which have been shortlisted for the 1987 National Book Council Awards for Australian Literature. I feel free, then, to be as nice as I like, and that will not be at all hard because these six books made lovely summer reading, and my mother will be pleased. By alphabetical order of author, the shortlist is this:

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