News from the Editors Desk

The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize is open

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The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, one of the world’s premier awards for an original short story, is now open. The Jolley Prize is worth a total of $12,500. This year the winner will receive $5,000, the runner-up, $3,000, the third-placed author, $2,000. Three commended stories will share the remaining $2,500. The judges on this occasion are Maxine Beneba Clarke, John Kinsella, and Beejay Silcox.

The three shortlisted stories will appear in our August 2019 issue, followed by the commended stories. The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in August. As with our other literary prizes, the Jolley Prize is open to writers anywhere in the world (stories must be in English).

Terms and Conditions are available on our website; and we have also updated our Frequently Asked Questions. Writers have until April 15 to enter.

The Jolley Prize is fully funded by ABR Patron Ian Dickson. We thank him warmly.

Palace Letters

Margaret and Gough Whitlam at The Lodge, 1973 (photograph via National Archives of Australia/Wikimedia Commons)Margaret and Gough Whitlam at The Lodge, 1973 (photograph via National Archives of Australia/Wikimedia Commons)

Bravo again to Jenny Hocking and her colleagues for ‘maintaining their rage’ about Queen Elizabeth’s indefinite embargo on the release of the so-called ‘Palace letters’ – the correspondence between Queen Elizabeth and Governor-General John Kerr pertaining to Kerr’s dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.

Jenny Hocking – emeritus professor at Monash University and Gough Whitlam’s biographer – initiated the case in the Federal Court of Australia two years ago. The recent appeal hearing before the Federal Court is the latest chapter in this sorry tale. (A ruling is expected in early 2019.) Hocking’s successive articles in The Guardian are essential reading for Australian citizens, republican or not.

Writing in The Guardian on December 16, Professor Hocking stated: ‘Far from the Palace remaining aloof, Kerr’s papers reveal that the Palace was already involved in Kerr’s deliberations leading to Whitlam’s dismissal.’ Previously, she had written: ‘These letters are a critical part of the history of the dismissal … which all Australians have a right to know. It is utterly inappropriate for any independent nation that such historical documents can remain secret from us at the behest of the Queen.’

Hocking also deplored the ‘gatekeeping’ role of the National Archives of Australia, which has spent approximately half a million dollars on the ‘Palace letters’ case. The NAA, she opined, ‘was not designed to protect and maintain hidden histories’.

Australian monarchists fawn over the endless princes and princesses, and the nation spends a fortune entertaining them, but others know that sections of the British Establishment treat Australians with contempt – none more so, in this context, than the Queen of Australia (ironically so designated by the Whitlam government, two years before its removal).

Judith Rodriguez (1936–2018)

The literary community was saddened by the recent death of Judith Rodriguez, aged eighty-two. Her contribution was extensive, primarily as a poet, of course, but also as a teacher, activist, publisher, and print-marker. She had a long association with PEN International. She taught at La Trobe University from 1969 to 1985 and at Deakin from 1998 to 2003.

The PEN International Women Writers’ Committee put it well: ‘Judith was a fierce campaigner for social justice, a lover of the written word, an inspiring poet, and a true internationalist who has lived a life of commitment and service both within and beyond many borders.’

David Malouf, a lifelong friend, launched Judith’s fifteenth collection, The Feather Boy and Other Poems (Puncher & Wattmann), a week before her death on November 22. Our review will follow.

Judith was a frequent contributor to this magazine, commencing in July 1978 (our second issue). She last wrote for us in 2010.

Harriet McKnight (19882018)

ABR was saddened to learn of the death of the talented writer and editor Harriet McKnight. McKnight’s powerful short story ‘Crest’ was shortlisted for the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. She was also shortlisted for the 2014 Overland VU Short Story Prize and the 2016 Overland Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize. She was an editor at The Canary Press for several years before moving to Darwin. McKnight’s début novel, Rain Birds (Black Inc.), was reviewed in our October 2017 issue by Gretchen Shirm, who noted that McKnight wrote ‘beautifully about people’.

The Calibre Essay Prize is closing!

Entries in the Calibre Essay Prize close on 14 January 2019. The total prize money is $7,500, and the judges are J.M. Coetzee, Anna Funder, and Peter Rose.

Gerald Murnane wins with Border Districts

Gerald Murnane (photograph by Ian Hill)Gerald Murnane (photograph by Ian Hill)

‘Poets are tough and can profit from the most dreadful experiences,’ W.H. Auden once wrote in an essay on Shakespeare. None, it seems, is more dreadful than rejection. Poets can brood over a rejection slip for decades. Gerald Murnane, for instance, recalls: ‘I wrote only poetry in my mid-twenties. I had three poems published in obscure places, but the dozen and more that I sent to mainstream publications were all rejected.’

Murnane, who has apparently finished writing all the fiction he had been ‘driven to write’, has now returned to poetry. The result is Green Shadows and Other Poems, which he started in 2014. In the same Author’s Note, Murnane writes: ‘Even after more than sixty years spent writing, I still find the process itself mysterious and awesome, and nothing has so mystified and awed me as the sudden coming into being of these fully-formed poems in the very last years of my career.’

Murnane has a small but influential readership. Last month, his novel Border Districts won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction, earning the author $80,000.

Giramondo is the publisher of Green Shadows and Border Districts.

Film tickets

At Eternity's GateAt Eternity's GateThis month, thanks to Palace Films, ten new or renewing ABR subscribers will win a double pass to Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro, a film about Silvio Berlusconi. Thanks to Transmission Films, another ten will win a double pass to At Eternity’s Gate, starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh.

To be in the running please email Grace Chang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Summer issue

While you enjoy the January–February double issue, look out for our mid-summer online issue, which will contain a dozen reviews. Meanwhile, good wishes for 2019 from everyone at ABR.

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Friday, 22 February 2019 15:00

News from the Editor's Desk - March 2019

News from the Editors Desk

Fellowship Twenty

Felicity Plunkett Felicity Plunkett Felicity Plunkett is the 2019 ABR Patrons’ Fellow. This Fellowship is worth $10,000. Felicity will contribute a number of articles and review essays over the course of the next year.

A frequent contributor to the magazine since 2010 and a past Fellow (2015), Felicity Plunkett – poet, critic, teacher, editor – was chosen from a large field, and here we thank everyone who applied in this round. We especially thank the ABR Patrons who make this program – and so much else – possible.

We look forward to advertising the twenty-first Fellowship – the ABR Indigenous Fellowship – shortly.

Read the media release about this announcement here: ABR Media Release


Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani FXB342840 Hi resBehrouz Boochani from Iran, on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, on Tuesday 11 April, 2017 (photograph by Alex Ellinghausen © Fairfax Media, MEAA)

Though often convivial, not all awards ceremonies are stirring, but the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – held at the MPavilion on January 31 – was very different. Behrouz Boochani’s extraordinary book No Friend But the Mountains (published by Picador, translated by Omid Tofighian) was named the Victorian Prize for Literature, having already won the Prize for NonFiction. Boochani, who remains on Manus Island where he has been incarcerated since 2013, recorded a video message and then spoke live to the audience via an iPhone. He spoke with great dignity and feeling.

Congratulations to the organisers and the Victorian government for not excluding Behrouz Boochani from these prizes, which – on this occasion – transcended the merely festive and monetary. (Boochani had earlier been excluded from the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards because he is neither an Australian citizen nor a permanent resident.)

At the ceremony, Omid Tofighian read a new poem by Behrouz Boochani (again, translated by Tofighian), which we are thrilled to publish in the March issue.

Felicity Plunkett reviewed No Friend But the Mountains in the October 2018 issue.


Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist

Peter PorterPeter Porter

This year’s judges – Judith Bishop, John Hawke, Paul Kane – have shortlisted five poems in the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, which is worth a total of $8,500. The poets are John Foulcher (ACT), Ross Gillett (Victoria), Andy Kissane (NSW), Belle Ling (Queensland/Hong Kong), and Mark Tredinnick (NSW). The poems commence on page 39.

This year’s Porter Prize ceremony will be held at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, on Monday, March 18 (6 pm). Reservations are essential for this free event: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. After readings from the work of Peter Porter, the shortlisted poets will introduce and read their poems. Then a special guest will name the overall winner, who will receive $5,000.


MWF on the move

The Melbourne Writers’ Festival (first presented in 1986) was based at the Malthouse Theatre from 1990 to 2008. Many people with fond memories of those congenial auditoria and the main foyer – always packed with authors and publishers and readers – have been hoping that MWF would find a more gemütlich home than Federation Square.

Happily, this year MWF will move to the State Library of Victoria (SLV), that dynamic cultural complex in the heart of town. The creation of new public spaces as part of SLV’s $88 million Vision 2020 redevelopment will make it possible for the Library and adjacent venues to accommodate a festival with this popular writers’ festival.

SLV CEO Kate Torney commented: ‘The Library is thrilled to be partnering with MWF to become the new home of Australia’s favourite literary festival. The partnership will bring new audiences to our magnificent Library, which is being transformed to meet the changing needs of our visitors.’

The Festival will run from August 30 to September 9.


Calibres galore

When the Calibre Essay Prize closed in mid-January, there were more than 450 entries – far more than in previous years. That’s almost two million words of essayism. Judging is underway but will take longer than expected. Hence, the winning essay will appear in the May issue – not April.

Hearty thanks to everyone who entered the Calibre Prize.

2019 Stella Prize Longlist


The 2019 Stella Prize longlist features books by twelve women, from a variety of publishers. Allen & Unwin figures prominently, with Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee, Little Gods by Jenny Ackland, and Bluebottle by Belinda Castles. Three-year-old publisher Brow Books is favoured too, with Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau and Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin. Axiomatic has already won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award and was shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premiers’ Literary Award.

The other longlisted titles are Stephanie Bishop’s Man Out of Time (Hachette), Enza Gandolfo’s The Bridge (Scribe), Chloe Hooper’s The Arsonist (Penguin Random House), Gail Jones’s The Death of Noah Glass (Text Publishing), Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip (University of Queensland Press), and The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie (Finch Publishing).

The winner will be named at a ceremony in Melbourne on April 9.


Melbourne University Publishing

MUP

Melbourne University Press – under the leadership of Louise Adler – has an unrivalled capacity to generate publicity. The University of Melbourne’s decision to (in the words of new Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell) ‘refocus MUP and a high-quality scholarly press’ and to reduce its commercial publishing led to a lot of lively debate. In response to the changes, Ms Adler (CEO since 2003) resigned, as did five board members, including Bob Carr and Gillian Triggs. There has been much commentary, some of it indignant and partisan.

Writing for Australian Book Review, Dominic Kelly – political historian and commentator – approaches the controversy from a different angle. His article aims to fill in some of the gaps in the recent coverage and to provoke a broader discussion of the role and purpose of university presses within the Australian publishing industry. Dr Kelly voices the frustrations of many academics about the direction of MUP and the quality of its titles over the past decade. He also seeks to correct the view propagated by a number of journalists and commentators that criticism of MUP from within academia is motivated by snobbery.

To read Dominic Kelly's commentary, click here


Vale Andrew McGahan

Andrew McGahan (photograph via Allen & Unwin)Andrew McGahan (photograph via Allen & Unwin)ABR was saddened by the recent death of author Andrew McGahan from pancreatic cancer in February aged fifty-two. McGahan was the author of six novels including the Vogel-winning Praise (1992), Wonders of a Godless World (2009), and The White Earth (2004) which won the 2005 Miles Franklin Award. McGahan was also the author of four young adult novels in the Ship Kings series including Ship Kings (2013) and The Coming of the Whirlpool (2011)

James Bradley reviewed The White Earth for ABR, describing it as ‘possessed of a resonance and symbolic complexity that exceeds anything he has done before’. His review was republished in the January-February 2019 issue as our From the Archive feature. In a statement on the Allen and Unwin website, publisher Annette Barlow said ‘I know that Australia’s literary community and readers will join me in mourning the loss of Andrew. I will remember him for his fierce and intense intelligence, his kindness and generosity, his fascination with the natural world and his bravery in facing his diagnosis. He truly was the best of men.’  

Allen and Unwin will publish McGahan’s final, posthumous novel The Rich Man’s House in September 2019.


Newcastle Writers Festival

The 2019 Newcastle Writers Festival runs from 5–7 April, and the full program is now available. Guests include Heather Morris, author of the bestselling The Tattooist of Auschwitz; acclaimed journalist and author Clementine Ford, who will discuss her recent work Boys Will Be Boys; and the award-winning Australian artist Ben Quilty. The festival will also feature a series of writing workshops and masterclasses, book launches, literary trivia, and much more.

For more information on the Newcastle Writers Festival, visit their website.


Daisy Utemorrah Award

In this prize-happy country, some of the worthiest (if not most lucrative) literary awards are for unpublished manuscripts. There is a new one from Magabala Books: the Daisy Utemorrah Award for an outstanding fiction manuscript in the junior and Young Adult categories (including graphic novels). It honours the late Ngarinyin Wunambal elder and author Daisy Utemorrah. Entrants must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons. The winner will receive $15,000 and, better still, a publishing contract with Magabala Books. Applications close on April 30.

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    ABR News: Felicity Plunkett named the ABR Patrons' Fellow 2019; a new poem by Behrouz Boochani; the Peter Porter Poetry Prize shortlist announced; the Melbourne Writers' Festival moves; Calibres galore; the 2019 Stella Prize shortlist announced; the Melbourne University Publishing furore; and more ...

In the car we wound around the bay, which, on the map, made the shape of an ear with a tear-shaped island off the coast like a jewel earring. My mother and I were going to see the lighthouse out on the cape – or what was left of it anyway, which was not much, she told me, but stones and rubble. Sandstone stump crowning the headland.

Worth documenting though, she said, since we’re staying so close by.

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  • Custom Article Title Jolley Prize 2018 (Shortlisted): 'Ruins' by Madelaine Lucas
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    In the car we wound around the bay, which, on the map, made the shape of an ear with a tear-shaped island off the coast like a jewel earring. My mother and I were going to see the lighthouse out on the cape – or what was left of it anyway, which was not much, she told me, but stones and rubble ...

It was the first thing she noticed: all the clocks had stopped. She only mentioned it when she was shown to the dining table and the woman – his grandmother – placed in front of her a glass of bandung, bright pink and sweating. Thanking her, she held the glass, the chill of it shocking the heat of her palm.

‘Your clocks – none of them are working.’

‘They haven’t for years,’ the woman said. She smiled. A gold snake coiled around her wrist; the bone pressed sharply against tissue-paper skin.

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  • Custom Article Title Jolley Prize 2018 (Shortlisted): 'Between the Mountain and the Sea' by Sharmini Aphrodite
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    It was the first thing she noticed: all the clocks had stopped. She only mentioned it when she was shown to the dining table and the woman – his grandmother – placed in front of her a glass of bandung, bright pink and sweating. Thanking her, she held the glass, the chill of it shocking the heat of her palm ...

Before I learnt the language of map-making, the word cadastre sounded like a timbre or a cadence. It was a momentous drum, a hollow ratatat. Bone, fire, dirt, stone. Like a shout, a ring, a knock, a blow. But when I learned maps, I discovered cadastre meant the legal boundary. There was no sound to it at all, only lines. The lines are normally black, but I have a range of colours and hatchings to choose from. Anyone wanting a map just needs to tell me which features they want.

A map can show anything. It’s possible to make maps of black cockatoo sightings, of cropland, of underground cobalts or silvers. I can show all the creeks and rivers, with the sea as a great green mass. Or I can plot cockatoos and creeks on a map together, adding minor roads and tracks. This was the sort of map my neighbour Vasco once might have asked me to send her.

Help me remember something good, Vasco. Sadness is making me forgetful.

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    Before I learnt the language of map-making, the word cadastre sounded like a timbre or a cadence. It was a momentous drum, a hollow ratatat. Bone, fire, dirt, stone. Like a shout, a ring, a knock, a blow. But when I learned maps, I discovered cadastre meant the legal boundary. There was no sound to it at all, only lines ...

Wednesday, 25 July 2018 01:25

News from the Editor's Desk - August 2018

News from the Editors Desk

Supporting the ABC

ABR, like many writers and media organisations around the country, worries about the future of independent journalism, especially in this trumpacious age, often so hostile to reason and open commentary. We share many Australians’ concerns about the health and viability of the ABC. The threats are myriad and sustained. Funding cuts (by all regimes), political interference, and daily taunts from News Corp have weakened the organisation. Recently, the Liberal Party’s Federal Council voted to privatise the organisation. This would surely spell the beginning of the end for the national broadcaster.

Auntie is far from perfect (which media organisation is?). Many of us grimace through those comedic Wednesdays; local drama is scarce; and ABC Classic FM is but a shadow of itself: populist, unedifying, and maddeningly nice. But consider what the ABC has contributed to our culture, our educational system, our democracy since 1928, and try to imagine an Australia without Four Corners, Q&A, Background Briefing, Rear Vision, the 7.30 Report, AM and PM, not to mention Geraldine Doogue, Fran Kelly, and good old Jim Maxwell, to name but a few.

We take things for granted in the Lucky Country, but can we really be sure that the ABC will be around in 2028 to celebrate its centenary – searching, unfettered, well resourced? More and more people think not and have begun to lobby government. Major rallies have taken place around the country. In this issue,

Ranald Macdonald (a spokesman for ABC Friends) writes about the present threat. Elsewhere, one hundred writers, artists, commentators, and public figures have signed ABR’s Open Letter supporting the ABC.

Sign up to ABR's free monthly e-News bulletin for news, reviews, events, and giveaways

Jolley Prize

The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, now in its eighth year, is worth a total of $12,500. This year we received about 1,200 entries from thirty-five countries. The judges – Patrick Allington, Michelle Cahill, and Beejay Silcox – longlisted fourteen stories (all of which are listed on our website) before shortlisting three of them: ‘Vasco’ by Claire Aman (NSW), ‘Between the Mountain and the Sea’ by Sharmini Aphrodite (Singapore); and ‘Ruins’ by Madelaine Lucas (NSW/USA). They appear in this issue.

Jolley shortlistClaire Aman (photograph by Ravi Watt-Nersesian), Sharmini Aphrodite (photograph by Varkur), and Madelaine Lucas

 

The judges commended three other stories: ‘Joan Mercer’s Fertile Head’ by S.J. Finn (Victoria); ‘Hardflip’ by Mirandi Riwoe (Queensland); and ‘Break Character’ by Chloe Wilson (Victoria). These stories will be published online in coming months.

The judges said this of the overall field: ‘We were privileged to read this teeming, diverse mass of unpublished short fiction from around the world. A number of stories, from the realist to the absurd, captured our attention with their conceptual ambition and original conceits. But the stories that sustained our interest created worlds that felt complete; offered genuine representations of different peoples, places and cultures; celebrated the human spirit, warts and all; were bold and funny, with language that sang; made us think and rethink; and offered endings that shook, surprised or satisfied us.’ (Their remarks on the shortlisted stories will follow in September, with the name of the winner.)

If you are in Melbourne on Monday, 20 August, join us at fortyfivedownstairs (CBD) for the Jolley Prize ceremony – always enjoyable, if tense-making for the authors (only the judges know the winner until he or she is named on the night). This is a free event and all are welcome, but bookings are essential, as this is a popular occasion: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Complete our readers survey

Australian Book Review is a fast-changing and responsive cultural magazine with a growing international profile. The magazine now offers many more features and programs than it did ten years ago – and there are more changes to come.

We love hearing from readers as to what they like about Australian Book Review – whom they enjoy reading; what they would like to see more (or less) of; what concerns them most as engaged readers and citizens. We look forward to hearing from readers of all kinds (ABR subscribers, non-subscribers, website browsers, social media followers, devotees, occasional readers) as to how they rate the magazine and how they think we can improve it. The survey takes about five minutes to complete. Feel free to skip any questions that don’t interest you.

The survey is totally anonymous – unless you want to be in the running for one of two five-year complimentary subscriptions to ABR Online (in which case we will need your name and email address). Click here to take the reader survey.

Consider this

Stephen Spender once said of a certain antipodean upstart who had just appeared in the vaunted Penguin Modern Poets series: ‘Who is Peter Porter?’ This was in 1962. Although the Brisbane-born poet was in his early thirties and already a prolific poet, he was relatively new to London – where he would continue to live until his death in 2010 – and he was still audibly and complicatedly Australian.

No one ever said of Porter’s great influence, ‘Who is W.H. Auden?’ – certainly not Stephen Spender, who remained captivated by his brilliant contemporary for the rest of his life. Auden, born in 1907, seems to have been famous from the outset. Celebrated while still at Oxford, he was cited in his fellow students’ essays. Grudgingly, F.R. Leavis said, ‘the undergraduate notability became a world figure overnight’. Faber published Auden’s first volume of poems when he was twenty-two, soon after T.S. Eliot had published a play of his in Criterion.

Auden, one of the great disapprovers, objected to lives of artists (‘I do not believe that knowledge of their private lives sheds any significant light upon their works’), but in his case there have been many biographers, including Humphrey Carpenter, Richard Davenport-Hines, and Peter Porter’s Queensland contemporary Charles Osborne. We also have Auden’s silly table-talk, his verbal frothings, his inimitable essays and aphorisms. Peter Porter, reviewing the Davenport-Hines, described Auden as ‘the greatest English (as distinct from English-speaking) poet since Tennyson’.

WH AudenW.H. Auden (Wikimedia Commons)Auden – unwise in love perhaps – was cannier in his executorial choice. Edward Mendelson was in his twenties when Auden tapped him to be his literary executor. Mendelson, now professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, has written extensively about Auden ever since. Key works include the six-volume The Compete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose and those indispensable commentaries, Early Auden (1981) and Later Auden (1999). Mendelson is not done yet. Early Auden, Later Auden: A critical biography (Princeton University Press [Footprint], $84.99 hb), his latest study, revises and augments those previous editions. Seumas Perry, a professor of English at Oxford University, reviews it brilliantly in LRB (10 May 2018).

Perry, who is beginning a life of Auden, is fascinated by his corrugated face, which Auden himself likened to ‘a wedding cake left out in the rain’. (Perry notes that only a poet, only someone ‘rather sad’, would think of leaving a wedding cake out in the rain.) Auden’s visage – possibly the result of a medical condition called Touraine-Solente-Golé syndrome, not to mention a phenomenal addiction to Player’s cigarettes and Benzedrine – attracted the attention of famous sculptors, photographers, and painters. David Hockney, who drew him, quipped, ‘I kept thinking, if his face looks like this, what must his balls look like.’

Eureka!

Meanwhile, Morag Fraser – former editor of Eureka Street, where she often published him – is writing the biography of Peter Porter, whose phenomenal archive now rests in the National Library of Australia. In a country with a sorry dearth of poets’ biographies, what a book this promises to be.

Admirers of Morag Fraser’s artful journalism should not miss her exceptional review of Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (recently performed by the MSO), which appears in the ABR Arts section of our website.

Porter Prize

Entries are now open for the 2019 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. This is the fifteenth time we have offered the Porter Prize. Past winners have included Stephen Edgar, Tracy Ryan, Judith Beveridge, and Michael Farrell (who has a poem in this issue).

The Porter Prize is worth a total of $8,500, and here we thank Morag Fraser and all our ABR Patrons for their support. The winner will receive $5,000; the runner-up, $2,000; the three other shortlisted poets will each receive $500. All five shortlisted poems will appear in the March 2019 issue of ABR.

The judges on this occasion are Judith Bishop (who has won the Prize twice, the only person to do so, yet), Paul Kane, and John Hawke, ABR’s Poetry Editor. Entries close on December 3. For more information about the Porter Prize, including entry guidelines and terms and conditions, please visit our Porter Prize page.

ABR in Perth

The WA presence in ABR has increased markedly in recent years, coinciding with welcome funding from the WA government. Peter Rose – Editor of ABR – will be in Perth in mid-August. He is keen to meet as many reviewers and arts journalists as possible. If you would like to arrange a meeting, contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Rose will be based at the Centre for Stories on Thursday, 16 August, before ducking off to review WASO’s concert performance of Tristan und Isolde, with Stuart Skelton and Eva-Maria Westbroek.

Changes at ABR

Dilan Gunawardana left ABR at the end of July. Dilan joined us in 2016 as the ABR Editorial Intern and became Deputy Editor (Digital) in 2017. His stamp is all over our website. A popular contributor to ABR Arts, Dilan will continue to write for the magazine.

Jack CallilJack CallilThanks to everyone who recently applied for the 2018–19 ABR Editorial Internship. Jack Callil has now joined the staff as Assistant Editor. Jack is not the only editor in his family. His great-aunt, Carmen Callil, founder of Virago Press and long-time managing director of Chatto & Windus, is one of the most illustrious publishers Australia has produced. Carmen (who was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017) is our Publisher of the Month.

Birthday largesse

To celebrate our fortieth birthday and to spread the word about the magazine, we’re partnering with some of Australia’s major bookshops and offering free copies of the magazine to customers who purchase books worth $40 or more. This month our partner is the excellent Avenue Bookstore. Staff there have 500 copies to give away in their three outlets: Albert Park, Elsternwick, and Richmond. Buy the book, then read the review. Be quick though.

ABR salutes the work of our fantastic independent bookshops. More promotions of this kind will follow.

John Bell is Back as the Miser

John Bell in Bell Shakespeare's 2019 production of The Miser John Bell in Bell Shakespeare's 2019 production of The Miser

 

Bell Shakespeare has announced the first of its 2019 productions: Molière’s comedy The Miser, which marks the return of the company’s founder John Bell in the titular role. Bell stepped away from the company in 2015, having created it in 1990. Bell will play the tyrannical penny-pincher Harpagon, a bourgeois deviant prepared to sacrifice everything, whether it be his children or his dignity, to come out on top.

Australian playwright Justin Fleming has been assigned as translator of the Bell Shakespeare adaption, who has worked previously on other well-known Molière satires such as Tartuffe and The Misanthrope. Directing The Miser will be Peter Evans, Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare, who said the decision to bring back John Bell as Harpagon was ‘too tantalising to resist’. ‘Having the opportunity to invite back our Founding Director to Bell Shakespeare, in a role that will have you laughing in the aisles, if not a little scandalised by the naughtiness of Justin Fleming’s translation, is a pleasure.’

Tickets to The Miser are exclusively available to Bell Shakespeare Members now; they will go on sale to the general public in November 2018. 

The Miser will play at Sydney Opera House from 2 March–6 April 2019; Canberra Theatre Centre from 11–20 April 2019; and Arts Centre Melbourne from 25 April–12 May 2019.

Geoffrey Rush Pulls Out of Twelfth Night

 Geoffrey RushPromotional image of Geoffrey Rush as King Lear

 

Actor Geoffrey Rush has announced that due to medical advice he is withdrawing from the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Twelfth Night, where he was set to play the role of Malvolio. ‘I do so with the greatest regret,’ Rush said in a statement. ‘I know that I would not be able to provide the necessary creative spirit and the professional stamina required for the project.’

Brett Sheehy, Artistic Director and CEO of Melbourne Theatre Company, said the company is seeking a replacement.

Twelfth Night will be performed at Melbourne Theatre Company from 12 to 29 December 2018.

Brisbane Writer Wins Drama Award

Brisbane playwright David Megarrity has won the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2018–19 for his play The Holidays. Selected from over ninety entries, Megarrity’s delicate, family-oriented play was chosen ahead of fellow finalists Hannah Belansky for‘don’t ask what the bird look like’, and Anna Yen for Slow Boat.

‘David Megarrity’s The Holidays is a disarming meditation on mortality and father son relationships,’ said Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong. ‘It’s a delicious combination of high-tech ambition and low-fi theatricality. David Megarrity, speaking of his winning work, said, ‘This visual theatre piece combines live performers, projection, audience participation and music to explore the impact of dementia, as experienced by one family, focussing on the connections between son, father and grandfather – told through the eyes of a young person.’

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    Supporting the ABC; Jolley Prize; W.H. Auden; Morag Fraser's upcoming biography of Peter Porter; The Peter Porter Poetry Prize; ABR in Perth; Free copies of ABR in select bookstores; Dilan Gunawardana leaves ABR; Jack Callil is the new Assistant Editor ...

News from the Editors Desk

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Ronan Farrow at MWF

Ronan Farrow Heidi Gutman MSNBC ABR OnlineRonan Farrow (photograph by Heidi Gutman/MSNBC)Ronan Farrow will be a guest at this year’s Melbourne Writers’ Festival (24 August–2 September). The celebrated author/lawyer/journalist will discuss ‘Power, Abuse and Facing Facts’ in an event chaired by journalist Tracey Spicer at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre on Thursday, 30 August.

Farrow, the son of filmmaker Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow (and grandson of the Australian film director John Farrow), has been a central figure in uncovering cases of sexual misconduct among men in positions of power, particularly in Hollywood. His gutsy reporting in The New Yorker on Harvey Weinstein’s ‘systematic, predatory’ behaviour was instrumental in the wider #MeToo movement in 2017. This reportage subsequently won The New Yorker the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Farrow’s new book is titled War on Peace: The end of diplomacy and the decline of American influence (Norton).

For more information about the 2018 Melbourne Writers’ Festival visit: https://mwf.com.au/

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield Curt Richter ABR OnlineJane Hirshfield (photograph by Curt Richter)Jane Hirshfield, one of America’s most outspoken and influential voices in poetry, feminism, and intellectual life, will visit Australia for the first time in July. People in Melbourne, Sydney, and Mildura will have a chance to hear the poet read from her work (she will also conduct a workshop at Writers Victoria).

Jane Hirshfield, chancellor-emerita of the Academy of American Poets, has published several collections. She will read at the University of Melbourne on 23 July (6 pm), a public event that is co-presented with the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts Monash University (register at http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/hirshfield)

The Mildura Writers’ Festival runs from 19–22 July. Guests will include David Malouf, Robyn Davidson, and James Ley.

We have much pleasure in publishing Jane Hirshfield’s poem ‘Interruption: An Assay’ in this issue.

Prizes galore

Our voracious judges are currently reading their way through almost 1,200 entries in the 2018 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, which is worth a total of $12,500. As always, we will publish the three shortlisted stories in our August issue. The winner will be revealed at a special event at fortyfivedownstairs on Monday, 21 August (6 pm – see our Events page). The Jolley Prize ceremony is a free event and all are welcome, but please book via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Readings from the shortlisted stories will precede the announcement.

August is also an exciting month for the world’s most alliterative of literary prizes. Entries for the 2019 Peter Porter Poetry Prize (worth $8,500) will open on 1 August.

Meanwhile, the 2019 Calibre Essay Prize will open on 1 September – the thirteenth time we have presented Calibre.

Sign up to our free monthly eNews newsletter, follow us on social media (Facebook and Twitter), or visit our website to get all the latest news about our prizes.

SMH Young Novelists

Congratulations to 2014 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize winner Jennifer Down on being named an SMH Young Novelist for the second year in a row, joining previous multiple recipients Emily Maguire, James Bradley, and Sonya Hartnett. Down was chosen in 2017 for her début novel Our Magic Hour, and this year for her début short story collection, Pulse Points, which features her Jolley Prize winning story ‘Aokigahara’.

Jolley Prize 2014 Jennifer Down ABR OnlineJennifer Down at the 2014 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize ceremony

 

The other 2018 SMH Young Novelists are Marija Peričić (The Lost Pages), Shaun Prescott (The Town), and Pip Smith (Half Wild).

More than a building

La Mama, one of Melbourne’s iconic theatres, has been seriously damaged in a fire. The blaze, started by an electrical fault, occurred on 19 May. No one was injured, and arson is not suspected.

‘While there is considerable damage, this has become a restoration project. We will retain as much of the historic structure of the building as possible … we loved our building on Faraday Street, but La Mama is more than a building, and despite our devastation her spirit is strong. Together with our artists, staff and community we will move with strength into the next fifty years and beyond,’ said La Mama Artistic Director and CEO Liz Jones and Company Manager and Creative Producer Caitlin Dullard in a joint statement.

La Mama Rick Evertsz ABR Online La Mama Theatre after the fire (photograph by Rick Evertsz)

 

All productions in La Mama’s Autumn season will proceed at different venues. For more information, visit La Mama’s website or Twitter page.

John Simkin Medal 2018

‘Why index?’ asks the indispensable Chicago Manual of Style, now in a sixteenth edition, and sumptuously indexed itself. The answer it provides is compelling: ‘This painstaking intellectual labor serves readers of any book-length text … An index, a highly organized, detailed counterpart to a table of contents and other navigational aids, is also insurance – in searchable texts – against fruitless queries and unintended results.’

Painstaking this essential labour certainly is, as anyone who has devised one can attest, so it is good to know that the craft of indexing is not entirely overlooked. The Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI) is seeking nominations from publishers, booksellers, editors, librarians, and indexers for the John Simkin Medal – an award recognising an outstanding index to a book or periodical compiled in Australia or New Zealand. To learn more about the John Simkin Medal, visit the ANZSI website.

Satan Repentant by Michael Aiken

Satan Repentant by Michael AikenAuthor James Bradley will launch Michael Aiken's verse novel, Satan Repentant (UWAP, $22.99 pb, 140 pp, 9781742589770), on Saturday 16 June from 4 pm – 5.30 pm at an event at Sydney's Better Read Than Dead bookstore. A reading from Michael Aiken will be followed by informal drinks.

Satan Repentant was written as part of Australian Book Review's inaugural Laureate's Fellowship under the mentorship of David Malouf. The novel is described as 'a violent epic leaping from the cosmological to the infinitesimal, a modern day drama of revenge, resentment, and remorse, telling a new myth of what would happen if Satan tried to apologise and atone for all his crimes.'

David Malouf describes Satan Repentant as a 'tour de force. Michael Aiken, like Milton, Blake and Mary Shelley before him, has created a language, entirely free of place and time, in which to take on dramatically. and with great intelligence and wit, some of the abiding questions – moral, social, theological – at the centre of our culture.'

To register for the event, visit the Better Read Than Dead website.

Melbourne Prize for Literature

Entries are now open for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. The Prize, worth a total of $100,000, is open to residents of Victoria who have been published in any literary genre. Information and entry guidelines are available from www.melbourneprize.org

Winter Reading

Midway through this double issue (June–July), we will publish a smaller online edition with a number of new reviews. Look out for this in the last week of June. If you are signed up for our free e-bulletins, you will receive an email Alert when the mini-issue is published.

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    Ronan Farrow at MWF, Jane Hirshfield, ABR Prizes galore, SMH Young Novelists, La Mama Theatre, John Simkin Medal 2018, Melbourne Prize for Literature, Winter reading ...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 15:16

News from the Editor's Desk - May 2018

News from the Editors Desk

Sign up to ABR's free monthly e-News bulletin for news, reviews, events, and giveaways

ABR on Tour

Next month ABR Editor Peter Rose and Development Consultant Christopher Menz will lead the third ABR international cultural tour with Academy Travel. This booked out German tour will include visits to Munich, Berlin, and Bayreuth.

Tickets are now available for the fourth tour, a return to the United States. Join a like-minded group on a twelve-day tour that explores literature, art and architecture, theatre and music in three of America’s greatest cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. All three cities have magnificent art collections, great music and theatre offerings, splendid architecture, and strong literary traditions. The tour will experience selected cultural highlights in each city. Australian Book Review will also hold a special literary/cultural event.

Details are available from Academy Travel and the ABR Tours page.

Alexis Wright

Tracker ABR E newsAlexis Wright’s collective biography of Tracker Tilmouth, Tracker (Giramondo), reviewed by Michael Winkler in our January–February issue, has won the $50,000 2018 Stella Prize. In his review Winkler wrote, ‘Wright takes a polyphonic approach to profiling her quixotic subject. The lead voice belongs to Tilmouth, but she augments and counterpoints his words through interviews with more than fifty informants, in often pungent vernacular. The voices overlap, re-embroider, and articulate different perspectives,’ describing Tracker as ‘a book performed by a folk ensemble rather than a solo virtuoso, [which adds to Wright’s] enduring non-fiction oeuvre.’ The other titles shortlisted this year were The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser, An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen, and The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe.

Jolley Prize

When entries closed for the 2018 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, we had received about 1,170 stories, from thirty-five countries. Judging is underway, and we look forward to publishing the three shortlisted stories in our August issue, ahead of the Jolley Prize ceremony later that month. Can’t wait to read the shortlist? Visit our Fiction page to read stories by past winners and other great short fiction.

Beverley Farmer (1941–2018)

Novelist, essayist, and short story writer Beverley Farmer died on April 16 at the age of seventy-seven.

Farmer’s first novel, Alone, was released in 1980. Her second book, Milk (1983), won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in 1984 as part of the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and her third novel, The House in the Light (1995), was shortlisted for the 1996 Miles Franklin Award. In 2009 she received the Patrick White Award, an annual prize established in 1974 to honour a writer who has been ‘highly creative over a long period but has not necessarily received adequate recognition’.

Beverly Farmer ABR OnlineBeverly Farmer

 

This Water: Five tales (Giramondo), longlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize, was announced at the time of publication as Farmer’s last work. In her review in ABR’s June–July 2017 issue, Anna MacDonald wrote, ‘Farmer’s prose is virtuosic, she is a stylist unlike any other living Australian writer, and it is difficult to read this last work without a haunting sense of loss.’

Melbourne Jewish Book Week

Melbourne Jewish Book Week will present its first full program between 3 and 9 May with ABR contributor and inaugural Calibre Essay Prize winner Elisabeth Holdsworth appearing at an event on Sunday May 6 at 1.45 pm at the St Kilda Town Hall. ‘The Jewniverse’ will explore ideas raised in Holdsworth’s ABR RAFT Fellowship Essay ‘If This is A Jew’ (November 2017). Moderated by Rebecca Wartell, the event will look at the current Jewish landscape and where things might be heading in a discussion between Holdsworth, historian Paul Forgasz, and Rabbi James Kennard. Visit the MJBW website for more information about this event and to see their full program. 

2018 Film Survey

In addition to a wide range of reviews, commentaries, and articles, we will invite some leading film critics and professionals to nominate their favourite film in the June-July Film and Television issue of ABR. To complement this feature, we want to hear from readers about their favourite film, director, and actor. There are some fantastic prizes for completing the survey, including a one-year Palace VIP Card, thanks to Palace Cinemas, and a pack of ten DVDs from Madman Entertainment. You have until 21 May to vote.

Kendrick Lamar

Predictably, the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes included the authors of exposés on sexual predators in Hollywood, multifarious scandals in US politics, and the plight of refugees worldwide. Less predictable was the Prize for Music which was won by US hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar for his 2017 album DAMN., described by Pulitzer as ‘a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life’. Lamar is the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prize, beating Michael Gilbertson’s Quartet and Ted Hearne’s Sound from the Bench. The decision to award the Pulitzer to the thirty-year old rapper has been received well so far, unlike the controversy which greeted Bob Dylan’s unexpected 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. But as James Ley writes in his review of Why Dylan Matters by Richard F. Thomas in this issue, ‘… those who disapproved of the decision seemed unable or unwilling to disentangle the question of whether or not he deserved the award from the question of whether or not it was appropriate to bestow it upon someone like him … someone whose work falls outside a traditional definition of "literature", someone with the temerity to have succeeded in a popular medium that has allowed his work to reach millions of people and exert a huge cultural influence.’ It’s hard to ignore the insightfulness of certain lines in Lamar’s repertoire which include: ‘Hail Mary, Jesus and Joseph / The great American flag is wrapped in drag with explosives / Compulsive disorder, sons and daughters / Barricaded blocks and borders / Look what you taught us!’ (‘XXX’) as the US, and indeed the world, teeters on the brink of a Trump-shaped abyss.

Kendrick Lamar ABR ArtsKendrick Lamar performs at FIB Benicàssim Festival 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

 

T-Shirts and tote bags

While the last vestiges of warm weather cling on for a few weeks more than usual, now’s your chance to pick up a high quality black cotton ABR t-shirt, available in various sizes for men and women for just $25 plus postage and handling. And do you need something to carry your books (and copies of ABR) in? You can also now purchase a stylish ABR tote bag. Visit our Merchandise page for more information.

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News from the Editors Desk

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Forty not out

With this double issue, Australian Book Review enters its fortieth year. ABR was of course founded in Adelaide in 1961 as a monthly magazine. Max Harris and Rosemary Wighton edited the first series, whose final, quarterly appearances lapsed in 1974. The second series was created in 1978 under the auspices of the National Book Council. Edited by John McLaren (1978–86), ABR had moved to Melbourne – first Carlton, then Richmond, now soaring Southbank. The April issue will mark the four-hundredth appearance of the magazine in its second guise.

Issue 1 1978 300First issue, June 1978Forty years is a substantial run for any publication, and it seems fitting for a magazine undergoing immense change to reflect on the achievements, sacrifices, and intentions of those original editors and their supporters. ABR, in a sometimes difficult market for little magazines, has survived and adapted to new modes, new literary movements, new technologies because of the commitment of hundreds of individuals – and more than 3,100 contributors. None was more selfless or tenacious than my predecessor, Helen Daniel, who edited ABR from 1995 until her death in late 2000.

To celebrate their achievements and mark this new, ambitious chapter in the magazine’s life, we will unveil new programs and features throughout the year. In February we will name the ABR Fortieth Birthday Fellow (we thank all those who have applied). The following month we will announce a new development that will be of considerable interest to our many contributors. Several themed issues will follow. Major public events will take place here and overseas, including one at the Australian Embassy in Berlin during our German tour in June.

Four decades is a milestone, but to myself and my colleagues – given the magazine’s present robustness and potential – it feels as though we are just starting out. Ed.

Jolley Prize

Advances was entertained by online reactions to Kristen Roupenian’s short story ‘Cat Person’, which triggered a flurry of ‘hot takes’, tweets, and commentary after it appeared in The New Yorker on December 11 and went viral online. Responses ranged from befuddlement to outrage. Some people, convinced that it was an essay rather than a story, questioned its fictional bona fides. But it was gratifying to see short fiction generating so much attention.

The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, one of the world’s premier awards for an original short story, has always welcomed new styles and voices. We look forward to being inspirited by new exponents of the genre with the opening of the 2018 Jolley Prize. The Jolley is worth a total of $12,500, of which the overall winner will receive $7,000. The runner-up receives $2,000, the third-placed author $1,000. Three commended stories will share the remaining $2,500. This year the judges are Patrick Allington, Michelle Cahill, and Beejay Silcox.

The three shortlisted stories will appear in our August 2018 issue; and the three commended stories will appear later. The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in August. As with our other literary prizes, the Jolley Prize is open to writers anywhere in the world (stories must be in English). It is easy to enter, simply visit our website for more details. The Terms and Conditions are detailed and comprehensive; and we have also updated our Frequently Asked Questions. (It’s amazing what people ask!) Writers have until 10 April to enter.

The Jolley Prize is funded by ABR Patron Ian Dickson. We thank him warmly.

Richard Flanagan

Fake news it seemed at first – or a mistimed April Fool’s Day spoof. Writing in The Australian on 11 December, Stephen Romei (the literary editor) reported that ‘Richard Flanagan has decided to boycott the Miles Franklin Literary Award ... a response fuelled by bitter personal disappointment’.

Flanagan, as we know, has been shortlisted on five occasions but has never won the Award. The most recent nomination was in 2014 for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which had previously won the Man Booker Prize. According to another admirer quoted in Romei’s article, Geordie Williamson, this was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back, as I understand it’.

Richard Flanagan’s withdrawal seems unfortunate, and it is to be hoped he will reconsider in comings years. Flanagan has had much patronage from readers, government, and universities. He has won several literary prizes, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction in 2014, when – in a widely criticised intervention – Prime Minister Tony Abbott overturned the judges’ decision and insisted on The Narrow Road to the Deep North’s sharing the prize with Steven Carroll’s A World of Other People.

Remarkably, Flanagan is quoted as predicting in a September 2017 interview with Romei that he would never win the Miles Franklin Literary Award. ‘I won’t win ever. I’m confident that I won’t win.’ Such negative ‘confidence’ seems extraordinary and misplaced. Is there a suggestion here that the Miles Franklin Literary Award per se or successive judging panels have been ill-disposed towards Richard Flanagan? Why would this be? Because of Flanagan’s politics, his prominence, his Guildhall triumph, his Tasmanianness ...? The Miles jury changes regularly. No one serving on it now was there in 1995, when Flanagan was first shortlisted. (Disclosure: I was a judge from 1997 to 2001.)

Flanagan’s ‘boycott’ seems ungenerous to four of the novels that prevailed in the years when he was shortlisted: Tim Winton’s Dirt Music (2002), Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria (2007), Tim Winton’s Breath (2009), and Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing (2014). (Advances will draw a heavy curtain over the first shortlisting, when the Miles went to Helen Demidenko for The Hand That Signed the Paper, the most freakish and regrettable decision in the long history of the Award.)

Many writers would draw solace or incentive from a quintet of shortlistings for Australia’s premier literary award.

Richard Flanagan ABR OnlineRichard Flanagan

 

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, admired by many, was not without its critics. Michael Hofmann and Craig Raine were mordant about the novel in the LRB and TLS, respectively. Our critic, James Ley, was more positive in his review in the October 2013 issue, yet he remarked on ‘peculiar lapses of judgement’ and ‘a tendency to overplay his hand, to end his chapters with a flourish ...’ (Ley reviewed First Person in our November 2017 issue and considered it ‘Flanagan’s most artfully constructed and thematically complex novel to date’.) Literary judgement, like any prize jury, is ultimately subjective – not a ratification of celebrity or multiple shortlistings.

There is also a strong whiff of cultural cringe about this brouhaha. Just because an Australian novel wins the Man Booker Prize doesn’t mean that local judges should roll over in agreement. Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang – surely one of the greatest modern Australian novels – won the Booker Prize in 2001 but not the Miles Franklin Literary Award, for which it was shortlisted. It happens.

Australia probably has more literary prizes than there are days in the year. In a difficult environment for creative writers, they supplement incomes, boost morale, and in some cases increase sales. But prizes can have a toxic effect on our literary culture, skewing reputations and warping expectations.

To our knowledge, Richard Flanagan has not commented publicly on this ‘boycott’. ABR invited his publisher, Penguin Random House, to do so, but received no reply. Ed.

Porter Prize

When submissions closed four weeks ago, we had received just under 1,000 entries in the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, our biggest field to date. We know what our three judges – John Hawke, Bill Manhire, and Jen Webb – will be reading over summer.

The five shortlisted poems will appear in our March issue. The winner will then be named at a free public ceremony at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne on Monday, 19 March. Following readings from the work of Peter Porter, the five poets will read their poems, after which a distinguished guest will announce the overall winner.

Alexis Wright and the Boisbouvier Chair

alexis wright photo vincent longAlexis Wright (photograph by Vincent Long)

 

Alexis Wright, award-winning novelist and member of the Waanyi nation of the Gulf of Carpentaria, has been appointed as the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne. The Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature was established in 2015 thanks to a $5 million gift from John Wylie and Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie. Richard Flanagan was the inaugural chair in 2015.

‘I hope that I can do some justice to the position by sharing my experience, knowledge, and vision as a practising writer of over thirty years,’ said Wright. Her new book is Tracker: Stories of Tracker Tilmouth. Michael Winkler reviews it in this issue.

Marten Bequest

The Marten Bequest Scholarships – begun in 1979 – are one of the great travel scholarships offered in Australia. Administered by the Australia Council for the Arts, the Marten Bequest is offering travelling scholarships for Australian artists and writers to explore, study, and develop their artistic practices through interstate or overseas travel. The Marten Bequest Scholarship offers $50,000, paid in quarterly instalments over two years, to Australian-born artists between the ages of 21-35. Applications close 31 January 2018.

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    With this double issue, Australian Book Review enters its fortieth year. ABR was of course founded in Adelaide in 1961 as a monthly magazine. Max Harris and Rosemary Wighton edited the first series, whose final, quarterly appearances lapsed in 1974. The second series was created in 1978 under the auspices of ...

Jolley Prize

The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, now in its seventh year, is worth a total of $12,500. This year we received nearly 1,200 entries from forty-two countries. The judges – Amy Baillieu, Ellen van Neerven, and Chris Flynn – longlisted eighteen stories (they are listed on our website) before shortlisting three of them: ‘The Leaching Layer’ by Dominic Amerena (Victoria), ‘Butter’ by Lauren Aimee Curtis (New South Wales), and ‘Pheidippides’ by Eliza Robertson (Canada/United Kingdom). They all appear in this issue.

Jolley 2017 shortlistDominic Amerena, Eliza Robertson, and Lauren Aimee Curtis

 

The judges have also commended three other stories: ‘The Man I Should Have Married’ by Catherine Chidgey (New Zealand), ‘The Fog Harvester’ by Marie Gethins (Ireland), and ‘Contributory Negligence’ by Stevi-Lee Alver (New South Wales).

If you are in Sydney on Thursday, 10 August, join us at the Potts Point Bookshop for the Jolley Prize ceremony – always entertaining, if suspenseful for the authors. This is a free event, but bookings are essential: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Fay Zwicky (1933–2017)

Fay Zwicky 300Fay Zwicky (photograph by Robert Garvey)Fay Zwicky always joked about being placed last in anthologies of Australian poetry. Lastness somehow suited her – conclusive, apart, a little unaccommodating – and she was never omitted from any serious anthology of contemporary Australian poetry. Born in Melbourne and educated at that university, she was a concert pianist before transferring to Perth, where she taught at the University of Western Australia from 1972 to 1987. Isaac Babel’s Fiddle appeared in 1975; Kaddish and Other Poems – perhaps her most celebrated collection – followed in 1982. She also published short stories and criticism, and she wrote for ABR seven times, from 1987 to 2013.

Fay Zwicky died on 2 July, the day after the publication of The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky (UWA Publishing), which is edited by Lucy Dougan and Tim Dolin. We’re delighted to be able to publish a late poem from that volume, ‘Little Fly’, about a dachshund called Mužka, which accompanied Fay everywhere, including hospital.


Miles Franklin shortlist

Five authors have been shortlisted for the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award: Emily Maguire (An Isolated Incident, Picador), Mark O’Flynn (The Last Days of Ava Langdon, UQP), Ryan O’Neill (Their Brilliant Careers, Black Inc.), Philip Salom (Waiting, Puncher & Wattmann), and Josephine Wilson (Extinctions, UWA Publishing). Each of them receives $5,000 from Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. The winner, who will be announced on 7 September, receives $60,000.

Our reviews of the shortlisted books can now be freely read online.


Porter Prize

Entries are now open for the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. This is the fourteenth time we have offered the Porter Prize. Past winners include Stephen Edgar (whose new collection Transparencies is reviewed by Geoff Page in this issue), Judith Bishop, Tracy Ryan, Michael Farrell, and Judith Beveridge.

The Prize is now worth a total of $8,500, and here we thank Ms Morag Fraser AM and all our ABR Patrons for their support. The winner will receive $5,000 and an Arthur Boyd print; this year we have created a second prize worth $2,000. The three other shortlisted poets will each receive $500. All five shortlisted poems will be published in the March 2018 issue of ABR.

The judges on this occasion are John Hawke, Bill Manhire, and Jen Webb. Entries close December 3. For more information about the Porter Prize, including entry guidelines and terms and conditions, please visit our website.


Conversational Calibre

The response to the winning essay in this year’s Calibre Prize has been enthusiastic. Michael Adams, author of ‘Salt Blood’, seems to have given more radio interviews than Christopher Pyne.

Michael Adams and Darius Sepehri FBMichael Adams and Darius Sepehri

 

This month we have pleasure in publishing Darius Sepehri’s ‘To Speak of Sorrow’, which placed second in the 2017 Calibre Essay Prize. The affinity between the two essayists was obvious when they both spoke at a Calibre Prize ceremony at the University of Wollongong on 1 June. Now, ABR, in association with Sydney Ideas, has much pleasure in presenting Michael Adams and Darius Sepehri in conversation on Monday, 7 August, at the University of Sydney. The event will feature readings from the two winning essays and a discussion of the shared themes of grief and mortality.

This is a free event and all are welcome, but please rsvp to Sydney Ideas.


Memoirs of historians

Historians often eschew autobiography, possibly regarding the genre as too speculative or marginal. Interestingly, though, we have a brace of memoirs from two Australian historians.

Sheila Fitzpatrick – a frequent contributor to ABR – is one of the world’s most celebrated Soviet historians. She has written a dozen books on Stalin, Stalinism, and the Russian Revolution, most recently On Stalin’s Team: The years of living dangerously in Soviet politics (2015). In recent years she has quietly, deliberately embarked on one of the most significant projects in Australian autobiography. My Father’s Daughter (2010) was shortlisted for the National Biography Award, and A Spy in the Archives (2013) won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for Non-Fiction.

Mischkas war 180Mischka’s War (Melbourne University Press)Now Sheila Fitzpatrick has published Mischka’s War (also with Melbourne University Press). It is a fascinating study of the author’s late husband, Mischka Danos, a Latvian whom she married decades after he survived World War II and went to the United States to pursue his career as a physicist. Forensically, Fitzpatrick examines Mischka’s vicissitudes, his intellectual formation, his many affairs and marriages – and his uncanny mother.

Jim Davidson’s memoir describes a very different war, as his title makes apparent: A Führer for a Father (NewSouth). The biographer of Keith Hancock and former editor of Meanjin writes about his father, also called Jim Davidson (the physical likeness was remarkable too) – a deeply unsympathetic figure, it seems. Bewilderment and fury alternate in the memoir, especially as the paternal insults mount.

We will review both memoirs in coming issues.


American moments

Philip Roth – rara avis to the last – may have signalled his retirement as a novelist, but he still publishes from time to time, if only via email (archaic as Gutenberg in the age of the twittering Trumps). The New Yorker of June 5 carried a welcome Rothian scrap, an edited version of a speech he gave back in 2002 when accepting the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Roth – rather more sentimental than some critics acknowledge – recalls his fabled childhood in Newark and his keen sense of apartness as a Jew, ‘a rather typical grandchild of four of those poor nineteenth-century immigrants’. Roth speaks of his reverence for writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Ring Lardner, Sinclair Lewis, Thomas Wolfe, and Erskine Caldwell – none of them Jewish – who gave him a sense of his ‘great ignorance’ of the continent west of Newark, with its Spartanburg and Lost Mule Flat and ‘the titillatingly named Little French Lick’.

Fifteen years prior to the atrocious Trump, Roth wrote: ‘... one is not always in raptures over this country and its prowess at nurturing, in its own distinctive manner, unsurpassable callousness, matchless greed, small-minded sectarianism, and a gruesome infatuation with firearms’ (private firearms seem the least of our worries in 2017). Yet Philip Roth – despite abiding and, it must be said, rejuvenated anti-Semitism – ends with a ringing endorsement of his partiality, ‘irrefutably American, fastened throughout my life to the American moment ... and writing in the rich native tongue by which I am possessed’.



Pillow talk

In his effusive review of the second edition of The Australian National Dictionary (TLS, 23 June 2017), Barry Humphries devotes much space to reminiscences of his decorous family film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. Humphries welcomes the inclusion of subtleties such as ‘pillow biter’, which he ‘managed to successfully promote, especially in Sydney, where few pillows go unbitten’. Humphries ends by congratulating the editors, who ‘have magnificently recorded what must surely be the richest vernacular in the history of human utterance, and if you don’t believe me you can stick your head up a wombat’s freckle’.

Kate Burridge reviewed AND2 – that indispensable reference – in the October 2016 issue of ABR.


Changes at ABR

The ABR editorial internships, which date back to 2009, are rare in the industry: fully paid and full-time introductions to the publishing life. We’ve welcomed some outstanding young graduates to ABR, and several of them have gone on to major appointments in the sector. Dilan Gunawardana became the latest intern in March 2016. Now he joins Amy Baillieu (Deputy Editor since 2012) as Deputy Editor (Digital).

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    Jolley Prize, Fay Zwicky (1933-2017), Miles Franklin Award shortlist, Porter Prize, Conversational Calibre, Memoirs of historians, Philip Roth ...

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