News from the Editor's Desk - April 2015

Published in April 2015, no. 370

Morag Fraser

At our AGM in March, Morag Fraser AM left the board after nine years as Chair and twelve years on the board. At a memorable function afterwards, board and staff members paid tribute to our esteemed colleague. Among the tributes published in a small testimonial was this one from Peter Rose: ‘It has been a joy working with you closely. No Editor – no editor intent on effecting change – could have hoped for more support: ready, subtle, questioning, sometimes teasing, always enthusiastic.’

Colin Golvan QC – who joined the board in 2005 – was elected Chair. Anne Edwards AO replaces him as Deputy Chair. Novelist Andrea Goldsmith joined the ten-strong board.

ABR in Literature

Readers of the Times Literary Supplement will have been entertained by the current ‘TLS in Literature: Third Series’, with its weekly listing of published mentions of TLS in novels and poems. Early examples have come from Dylan Thomas, Philip Roth, and C.K. Stead, in whose novel Risk an Australian poet wonders where he should publish a raunchy new poem (‘Or the TLS? Why not? Yes – to hell with it! – he’d try the TLS ... Give them a chance to do themselves a favour!’).

Advances is intrigued. Does ABR crop up in Australian fiction or poetry? Who was our first ‘magazine mentioner’, to paraphrase Edward Albee? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will reciprocate with a book from our library.

Jolley Prize

You still have until May 1 to enter the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, which is worth a total of $8,000. Entries are arriving at an impressive rate – from all around the world. While we endeavour to make our Guidelines and Conditions as comprehensive as possible, we still receive many queries about eligibility and such. Our favourite curly one was: ‘Should the entries be stapled or paper-clipped?’

If you are interested in entering the Jolley Prize, check our FAQs here. Otherwise, give us a ring on (03) 9699 8822.

ABR heads to the Brisbane Writers Festival

There are always lots of good reasons to head to the Brisbane Writers Festival (September 2–6), and ABR readers now have an added incentive: the first of our ABR tours (an ambitious new program that will see us leading tours around Australia and overseas). The highlight of our Brisbane tour will be a special ceremony with our three shortlisted Jolley Prize authors (one of whom will be named as the overall winner, earning $5,000). With tour company Academy Travel and BWF, we are developing a special package that will cover accommodation, selected meals, tickets to BWF events, and invitations to ABR events, including the Jolley Prize ceremony. If you would like to attend the festival as part of the tour, please register your interest if you have not already done so. Telephone us on (03) 9699 8822 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Unambiguous terms

Those of you who are longing to read Campbell Newman’s memoirs will have to wait until he finds an accommodating publisher. The University of Queensland Press has declined to publish the memoirs because of the former Queensland premier’s decision in government to cease funding the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. The UQP board Chair, Professor Joanne Wright, has deplored this editorial decision (‘and this has been communicated to UQP management in unambiguous terms’). In another novelty, we learn that Mr Newman’s memoirs will be written by former MP Gavin King.

Critical Matters

Often the prospect of another panel or seminar devoted to the subject of book reviewing induces a yawn of foreboding, but 'Critical Matters: Book Reviewing Now’, a one day symposium being organised by Monash University’s Centre for the Book, promises to be stimulating, and galvanising. Dr Melinda Harvey – Director of the Centre and convenor of the symposium – has put together an excellent program, one that promises to challenge myths about criticism and highlight some of the ‘hot button issues’: gender bias; anonymity versus bylines; negative reviews; social media; bias; stridency; the efficacy of book reviewing, etc.

After a morning of closed sessions, there will be two public panels, with papers (or ‘provocations’) by critics and editors such as Delia Falconer, Peter Craven, Kerryn Goldsworthy, and Geordie Williamson. ABR Editor Peter Rose, in his ‘provocation’, will lament the serious challenges facing book reviewers in this country and announce a major new ABR campaign to raise base rates for critics.

‘Critical Matters’ will take place at the Wheeler Centre on 9 April.

First series of ABR

To complement our master list of everyone who has written for the second series of ABR, which began in 1978, we have now created a comprehensive list of contributors to the first series (1961–74). Find out when Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Harrower, and Robin Boyd wrote for us, for instance.

(Meanwhile, our thanks to editorial volunteer Margaret Robson Kett for preparing this fascinating resource.)

Delivery blues

Last month many of you had to wait far too long for your copy of ABR. We lodged it with Australia Post on 27 February, but in some cases it took a fortnight to reach subscribers. Even allowing for Print Post delays and new protocols at Australia Post, this is deplorably slow. ABR is doing what it can to ameliorate these problems; henceforth we will be going to press earlier. We always list our delivery date on the imprint page, and we are grateful to subscribers who notify us when their copy arrives (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Thank you so much for your forbearance.

Published in April 2015, no. 370

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