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Peter Rose

To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites.  

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This week’s episode of the ABR podcast is devoted to the Books of the Year. With ABR Editor Peter Rose, critic and writer Beejay Silcox and historian Frank Bongiorno discuss the books that stirred them most in 2022. This follows a Books of the Year feature in the December issue of ABR, with contributions from thirty-six writers and critics. Listen to Peter Rose, Beejay Silcox and Frank Bongiorno discuss the best books of 2022.

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'Coronation Chicken', a new poem by Peter Rose.

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Fifteen years ago, the new Rudd government announced the creation of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (PMLAs), to be administered by the Minister for the Arts. There were two prizes at the outset – fiction and non-fiction – each worth $100,000 – tax free to boot. Given the precarious incomes of most Australian writers, the prizes could not have been more welcome. Later, after some lobbying, young adult and children’s fiction were added, followed by poetry and Australian history. Sensibly, like other literary prizes, the PMLA organisers decided in 2011 to reward all the shortlisted authors, not just the winner. 

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The Requiem 

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
31 October 2022

When Alessandro Manzoni died on 22 May 1873, it was an event of major significance in Italy. The poet, novelist, and philosopher – an early proponent of Italian unification – was a hero of the Risorgimento. His novel I promessi sposi (1827), with its appeal to Italian patriotism, was (and remains) one of the most famous Italian novels.

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The ups and downs of biography

Hazel Rowley is the 2007 Australian Book Review/La Trobe University Annual Lecturer. That title is quite a mouthful (the acronym doesn’t bear thinking about), but one that Dr Rowley will handle in her stride, as those who recall her appearances on Australian literary stages will attest.

Dr Rowley – born in England and educated in Australia – taught for many years at Deakin University before moving to the United States. In 1993 she published Christina Stead: A Biography. In her review in The Independent, Doris Lessing said, ‘Christina Stead has long needed a good biographer, and here she is.’ Miegunyah has just issued a revised edition of the biography, in time for Dr Rowley’s Annual Lecture – and her appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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Childhood by Shannon Burns

October 2022, no. 447

That the boy depicted in Shannon Burns’s nightmarish memoir survived to write it at the age of forty reflects no credit on society or on those around him. His persistence seems remarkable, given the world he entered.

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There are times when the act of editorialising seems reckless, if not otiose. Any such column, written on 20 September, runs the dual risk of belatedness – or prematurity. So appalling were the events of 11 September, and so ominous their ramifications, no one can be confident of the likely international developments in coming weeks, days, or even hours. All we can do at ABR is to sympathise with the families of those killed in New York, including a number of Australians, while also following events and covering the issues and inevitable publications in these pages.

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Lucrezia Borgia 

Melbourne Opera
30 August 2022

Few opera composers were more prolific than Gaetano Donizetti, and 1833 proved to be no exception in his relatively short career, with four separate premières in as many cities, culminating in Lucrezia Borgia, first heard at La Scala on 26 December. That season ran for thirty-three performances. The opera went on to become a popular vehicle for prima donnas (some nearing the end of their careers). Melbourne Opera’s reliably good program informs us that Lucrezia had its Australian première at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal in 1855 and remained popular for forty years, becoming Donizetti’s most performed opera in Victoria after Lucia di Lammermoor.

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The forbearance of those writers who entered the Australian Book Review and Reader’s Feast Short Story Competition has been as exemplary as their commitment to short fiction. I am pleased to be announce the shortlist:

Ian McFarlane: ‘A Balance of Probabilities’

Katarina Mahnic: ‘Flying Recipe’

B.E. Minifie: ‘There Has to be a Resemblance’

Carrie Tiffany: ‘Dr Darnell’s Cure’

Susan Yardley: ‘The End Is Where We Start From’

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