When There's Nowhere Else to Run
Allen & Unwin, $27.99 pb, 243 pp, 9781760112332
Our national literary landscape would be seriously depleted without The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award. It jump-started the careers of Tim Winton, Julienne van Loon, and Andrew McGahan, authors who have been willing to explore the harsher aspects of Australia’s identity, however confronting these journeys may sometimes have been. Others, such as Gillian Mears, Danielle Wood, and Eva Sallis (née Hornung) wove lyrical meditations on loss and identity into their début novels. With the exception of Wood, who has since straddled styles and formats, they continue to do so to this day.
More recent Vogel-winning novels from Christine Piper and Paul D. Carter explored regional politics past and present in their respective works, After Darkness (2014) and Eleven Seasons (2012). Most striking about these texts was their ability to transcend their setting, be it temporal or literal, and to make astute commentary about society, and more poignantly, the permanence of memory.
Much of the work of past Vogel winners have belonged to the genre of literary realism. Murray Middleton’s When There’s Nowhere Else to Run continues this trend, but it also represents a departure from the norm. Alongside the 1986 winner, Robin Walton’s Glace Fruits, it is one of only two short-story collections to win the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award in its more than thirty-year history.