Friday, 23 March 2018 14:18

News from the Editor's Desk - April 2018

Calibre Essay Prize

The Calibre Essay Prize, now in its twelfth year, has played a major role in the resurgence of the literary essay. This year we received more than 200 original essays from thirteen countries. ABR Editor Peter Rose judged the Prize with novelist and essayist Andrea Goldsmith and NewSouth publisher Phillipa McGuinness. Their task was a long but stimulating one because of the quality of the thirty longlisted essays.

Lucas Grainger-Brown is the winner of the 2018 Calibre Essay Prize. His essay, entitled ‘We Three Hundred’, offers a candid and unsentimental account of life at the Australian Defence Force Academy as an idealistic cadet straight out of high school. Dr Grainger-Brown receives $5,000 from ABR.

Lucas Grainger BrownGrainger-Brown, who first wrote for ABR in 2016, told Advances: ‘It is an incredible honour to win the Calibre Essay Prize. Many of its past winners changed the way I think and feel about fundamental things. I am delighted my words will be added to this important body of work. When I was ready to write my formative story, I knew I had to submit it to the Calibre Prize. Australian Book Review provides a fantastic national platform for the appreciation of Australian arts, ideas, and culture. I hope my essay is read as a constructive addition to the ongoing dialogue about who we are and where we are going.’

This year’s runner-up is ‘Once Again: Outside in the House of Art’ by novelist Kirsten Tranter. In this ekphrastic essay, Dr Tranter, who lives in California, returns to Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation ‘The Visitors’ and offers a subtle meditation on art, parenthood, and expatriation. Kirsten Tranter receives $2,500. We will publish her essay in May.

Black Inc. may have decided not to proceed with The Best Australian Essays (as with its poetry anthology), but Calibre will be back bigger than ever in 2019.

ABR gratefully acknowledges generous support from Mr Colin Golvan QC and the ABR Patrons.

Peter Temple (1946–2018)

800px Peter Temple Oslo bokfestival 2011 ABR Online

Peter Temple, the first crime writer to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award, died at his home in Ballarat on 8 March, aged seventy-one.

Temple, who was born in South Africa and emigrated to Australia in 1980, was the author of nine novels, including the Jack Irish series, later adapted for television. Truth, his last novel, won the Miles in 2010. Temple also won five Ned Kelly awards and the British Crime Writer’s Association’s Gold Dagger award. In a tribute to its author, Text Publishing described Temple as bringing ‘the soul of the poet to the demands of the crime novel’.

Porter Prize

Nicholas Wong became the first Asian writer to claim an ABR literary prize when he was named winner of the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Wong, who had travelled from Hong Kong to attend the Melbourne ceremony on 19 March, receives $5,000 for his poem ‘101, Taipei’. He told Advances, ‘I’m honoured to be the winner, especially with a poem whose subject matter may seem foreign.’

Nicholas Wong photograph by Sum at Grainy Studio 200pxTracey Slaughter was placed second with her poem ‘breather’; she receives $2,000. One-third of the entries in this year’s Porter Prize came from overseas – a measure of its international prestige and of greater awareness of ABR outside Australia.

We congratulate Nicholas Wong, the other shortlisted poets (Eileen Chong, Katherine Healy, and LK Holt), and our three judges: John Hawke, Bill Manhire, and Jen Webb.

A podcast of the Porter ceremony – including readings from all five shortlisted poets – is available on our website.

Films Galore

For reasons too Bollywood to relate, our Film and Television issue has been postponed to June, giving readers more time to vote in our online survey. Tell us your favourite film, director, and actor for a chance to win one of five great prizes, including a one-year Palace VIP card. You have until 21 May to vote.

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  • Custom Article Title News from the Editor's Desk - April 2018
  • Contents Category Advances
  • Custom Highlight Text

    The Calibre Essay Prize, Peter Temple (1946-2018), Porter Prize, 2018 Film survey

In her Introduction to The Best Australian Stories 2017, Maxine Beneba Clarke describes how the best short fiction leaves readers with ‘a haunting: a deep shifting of self, precipitated by impossibly few words’. Many of the stories here achieve this, inserting an image or idea into the reader’s mind and leaving it there to worry, delight, or intrigue. The collection as a whole seems haunted by the figure of the lost child, one that Peter Pierce suggested in his book The Country of Lost Children (1999) has preoccupied the Australian imagination at least since the nineteenth century, first as children lost to the bush and later as victims of adult behaviour. The children featured in these stories demonstrate resilience as well as damage, creativity as well as fear, but many of the adult protagonists are heavily shadowed by their anxiety over children.

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  • Custom Article Title Rachel Robertson reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2017' edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Contents Category Anthology
  • Custom Highlight Text

    In her Introduction to The Best Australian Stories 2017, Maxine Beneba Clarke describes how the best short fiction leaves readers with ‘a haunting: a deep shifting of self, precipitated by impossibly few words’. Many of the stories here achieve this, inserting an image or idea into the reader’s mind and leaving it there to worry ...

  • Book Title The Best Australian Stories 2017
  • Book Author Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio Black Inc., $29.99 pb, 188 pp, 9781863959612

If a collection of stories is put together on the basis that these are the ‘best Australian stories of 2016’, is it fair or reasonable to hope for some kind of cohesiveness or gestalt beyond those three explicit parameters of quality, place, and time? The answer will depend largely on what the editor’s ideas might be, not only about what makes a good short story, but also about the way to make a group of individual stories add up to a book: to something more than the sum of its parts.

This year’s editor, Charlotte Wood, herself a celebrated writer of fiction, is a woman of unusual intellectual flexibility and reach: at one end of the spectrum she is quickly gaining an international reputation for her dreamlike dystopian novel The Natural Way of Things (2015), at once a powerful political fable and an extraordinary feat of imagination; and at the other end she has experience as a senior arts administrator and a scholar, this year adding a PhD to her growing collection of achievements.

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  • Custom Article Title Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2016' edited by Charlotte Wood
  • Contents Category Fiction
  • Custom Highlight Text

    If a collection of stories is put together on the basis that these are the ‘best Australian stories of 2016’, is it fair or reasonable to hope for some kind of cohesiveness or gestalt beyond ...

  • Book Title The Best Australian Stories 2016
  • Book Author Charlotte Wood
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio Black Inc. $29.99 pb, 230 pp, 9781863958868