News from ABR

September 2021, no. 435

News from ABR

September 2021, no. 435

The Jolley Prize

Ruminating on the inimitable critic Frank Kermode in 2020, Peter Rose wrote: ‘What we read at difficult times in our lives – plague, insurrection, divorce, major root canal work, etc. – is always telling.’ One year on, our collective difficulties persist (worsen even); many of us find ourselves under lockdown once more, isolated from the world and one another. Yet what we read still matters, offering, as it always has, relief and solace during times of hardship. Fiction, perhaps more than any other genre, is a sort of bracing consolation.

Each month ABR celebrates and interrogates fiction. The magazine also advances and rewards short fiction through the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, one of the world’s leading prizes for an original short story. This year the Jolley attracted a record field of 1,428 entries from thirty-six different countries. In a virtual event held on August 10, we introduced the three shortlisted authors, whose stories all appear in the August issue: Camilla Chaudhary, Lauren Sarazen, and John Richards.

Following the readings, Camilla Chaudhary was announced as the winner for her story ‘The Enemy, Asyndeton’, for which she received $6,000. This year’s judges (Gregory Day, Melinda Harvey, and Elizabeth Tan) described Chaudhary’s story as ‘a delightful, nimble story; the characters bristle with life, and the dialogue is crisply rendered’. Lauren Sarazen was placed second ($4,000) for her story ‘There Are No Stars Here, Either’; and John Richards was placed third ($2,500) for ‘A Fall from Grace’.

Our winner reads ‘The Enemy, Asyndeton’ on the ABR Podcast. The other Jolley stories will follow in coming weeks.

We look forward to offering the Jolley Prize for a twelfth time in early 2022.

As always, we thank our Patron Ian Dickson for his continuing and most generous support.



Apropos of podcasts, none has proved more popular than ‘Façades of Lebanon’, winner of the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize. Theodore Ell reads his essay quite shatteringly on the ABR Podcast.

In this month’s issue, we feature the runner-up in this year’s Calibre Prize: ‘May Day’, by Melbourne comedy writer Anita Punton. In their report, the judges described ‘May Day’ as

a rich and moving evocation of a relationship between father and daughter. Written with humour and flair, it offers a complex portrait of the father: a brilliant, narcissistic man, whose life was full of contradictions. The author, his daughter, struggles to reconcile the two halves of his life: the outgoing Olympic gymnast and the paranoid recluse, the doting young father and the hostile man she remembers from later years. She never thought of mental illness as the cause, and the suggestion unsettles her. Some remarkable photos taken by her father and hidden for decades only deepen the ambiguity.

As we augment ABR’s rich digital archive going back to 1978, it’s good to feature some major essays and articles on the Podcast. Many readers will have vivid memories of Elisabeth Holdsworth’s ‘An die Nachgeborenen: For Those Who Come After’, winner of the first Calibre Prize back in 2007. Elisabeth’s reading of her celebrated essay is now featured on our Podcast. More Calibre classics will follow.



The ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth a total of $10,000, is open for a few more days. The Fellowship – funded by the magazine’s generous Patrons – offers writers a chance to publish a series of extended articles in the magazine under the editorial guidance of the ABR editors. The Fellow will make a broad contribution to the magazine over the course of twelve months. ABR welcomes proposals from emerging and established Australian creative writers, freelance reviewers, journalists, commentators, and scholars. The Fellow’s articles will appear in the print magazine and online.


Pondering on the Murray 

It’s great to hear that Donata Carrazza – a champion of the arts in the region and an occasional contributor to ABR – is the new owner of Collins Booksellers Mildura, owned until recently by John Bond. Donata has been involved for many years in a number of hospitality businesses in north-west Victoria, the most celebrated being the Mildura Grand Hotel and Stefano’s restaurant. In 1995, with Stefano de Pieri, she founded the Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival, which soon spawned the Mildura Writers’ Festival – a favourite of many authors, our Editor included.

Asked about her hopes for the business, Donata Carrazza told Advances that she wants to create a space conducive to ‘pondering and browsing. Wall space is rather sacred in bookshops, but I’ll do what I can to feature some of my favourite visual artists.’

Mildurans, you know where to head!

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