Reading the leaves
ABR readers, it is now abundantly clear, are great democrats and colossal readers. You love to vote, and you read like clairvoyants. We have been inundated with votes in the ABR FAN Poll – hundreds of them most days. With two weeks to go before voting closes (December 15), some clear favourites are emerging. Below we list twenty of them, in alphabetical order:
Murray Bail: Eucalyptus
Peter Carey: Oscar and Lucinda
Peter Carey: True History of the Kelly Gang
Richard Flanagan: The Sound of One Hand Clapping
Miles Franklin: My Brilliant Career
Helen Garner: Monkey Grip
Kate Grenville: The Secret River
Henry Handel Richardson: The Fortunes of Richard Mahony
George Johnston: My Brother Jack
John Marsden: Tomorrow, When the War Began
Randolph Stow: The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea
Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap
Ethel Turner: Seven Little Australians
Patrick White: Riders in the Chariot
Patrick White: Voss
Patrick White: The Vivisector
Tim Winton: Breath
Tim Winton: Cloudstreet
Tim Winton: Dirt Music
Markus Zusak: The Book Thief
If you haven’t voted yet, it’s not too late. Consult our website for more details: www.australianbookreview.com.au.
To date, voters have nominated 240 individual Australian novels. If we can find room in the next issue, we will list all the nominated titles; we will definitely post the list on our website. It’s quite instructive – a fillip to further reading. Patrick White, not surprisingly, has more works than anyone else; nine of his novels are favoured. Next come Kate Grenville, David Malouf and Tim Winton, with six titles each; and Peter Carey, Bryce Courtenay and Alex Miller, with five each.
The Patrick White Literary Award, established by the author with the proceeds from his Nobel Prize, is presented annually to a writer ‘who has already made a contribution to Australian literature … [but who has] not received due recognition’. Previous winners this decade have included Janette Turner Hospital and Thomas Shapcott. Beverley Farmer is this year’s recipient. Farmer, whose publications include Milk (1983) and The House in the Light (1995), was described by judge Michael Costigan as ‘an intense, meditative and gifted stylist’. A self-described ‘reclusive and a loner’, Farmer says she will spend her prize money on house repairs and a new laptop.
Iconic Aussie Films
Brian McFarlane, on page 45, argues that 2009 has been a resurgent year for Australian cinema. He cites Balibo, Last Ride, Samson & Delilah and the restored print of Wake In Fright – among other films – as proof. This month, ten new or renewing subscribers will win a DVD pack containing each of these four films, thanks to Madman Entertainment. For more information on Madman’s 2009 Iconic Aussie Films campaign visit www.madman.com.au.
Farewell to 2009
Notwithstanding the economic malaise overshadowing the start of the year, it’s been a busy and eventful twelve months at ABR. Highlights have included a new design for the magazine; an expanded and overhauled website; the APA Editorial Internship, which introduced us to Mark Gomes (now the Assistant Editor); an almost completely new staff; a regular presence on social networking sites; and the confirmation of charitable status, which has enabled us to expand our efforts in the area of private philanthropy.
Two hundred and thirty-one people wrote for us in 2009. We thank them all; they make this magazine such a pleasure to produce. My personal thanks also go to staff, the board and our wonderfully generous volunteers.
It would be disingenuous to say that these are rosy times for literary magazines. ABR has held its own in 2009, but your continued support is vital, either as a subscriber, a Patron or a smaller donor. If you enjoy the magazine, become a subscriber or renew your subscription, arrange a gift subscription for a friend or relation, or make a (tax-deductible) donation to ABR (see your renewal notice or the donation form on our website). We have big plans for 2010, but we won’t be able to realise them without your support.
This month the first ten new subscribers will each receive a signed copy of Alex Miller’s Lovesong, which Judith Armstrong, one of two dozen critics featured in our Best Books of the Year feature, describes as a ‘warm and compulsive read’.
This is one of two double issues we publish each year. We’ll be back in February. Meanwhile, stay cool and enjoy the summer. Best wishes from everyone at ABR.