Competitions and programs (89)
Australia’s leading award for an original essay is intended to foster new insights into culture, society, and the human condition. All non-fiction subjects are eligible for submission. The prize is worth a total of $7,500, and is supported by ABR Chair Colin Golvan QC and ABR Patrons.
ABR’s prestigious international poetry prize is named in honour of the late Australian poet Peter Porter. This year the prize is worth AU$10,000, and is supported by Morag Fraser AM and Andrew Taylor AM.
ABR’s annual international short fiction prize is named in honour of the late author Elizabeth Jolley, and is worth a total of AU$12,500. The Prize is supported by ABR Patron Ian Dickson.
ABR Behrouz Boochani Fellowship
Hessom Razavi as the recipient of the 2020 ABR Behrouz Boochani Fellowship. The Fellowship, worth $10,000, honours the artistry, courage, and moral leadership of Behrouz Boochani, the award-winning author of No Friend But the Mountains (2018). Dr Razavi will make a significant contribution to the magazine in 2020 with a series of three substantial articles on refugees, statelessness, and human rights.
ABR Patrons Fellowship
Felicity Plunkett is the recipient of the 2019 ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $10,000. Felicity has been a frequent contributor to the magazine since 2010 and was a past Fellow (2015). A poet, critic, teacher, and editor, Felicity was chosen from a large field and will contribute several articles to ABR over the course of the year.
ABR Fortieth Birthday Fellowship
Beejay Silcox is the recipient of the ABR Fortieth Birthday Fellowship worth $10,000. Beejay, who first wrote for us in 2016, has quickly become a regular in our pages, and elsewhere. She will contribute several articles and review essays in 2018, commencing with a survey of magazine culture in our 400th issue (April).
ABR Gender Fellowship
Author and academic Marguerite Johnson is the 2017 ABR Gender Fellow. Her Fellowship essay ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock fifty years on’ looks at Joan Lindsay's 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, drawing on studies of gender and sexuality, Australian art, and Classics. The ABR Gender Fellowship is worth $7,500. Her essay appeared in the December 2017 issue of ABR. The Fellowship is funded by ABR Patron Emeritus Professor Anne Edwards.
ABR RAFT Fellowship
Elisabeth Holdsworth is the 2017 ABR RAFT Fellow. Her essay 'If This Is a Jew' explores the nature of Progressive Judaism as practised in Australia, Israel, and the United States. Her essay appeared in the November 2017 Arts issue of ABR. The Fellowship is supported by the Religious Advancement Foundation Trust.
ABR Eucalypt Fellowship
Adelaide novelist and essayist Stephen Orr is the 2017 ABR Eucalypt Fellow. Stephen Orr’s essay 'Ambassadors from Another Time' explores the way the eucalypt 'flourishes from Tasmania to the Philippines, how it has colonised poor soils, provided food for the First Australians, images for May Gibbs’s garden sketches, but also informed a sense of isolation about lost children, and terror in the burnt-out cars left in the wake of Ash Friday.' Stephen Orr's Fellowship essay appeared in the 2017 October Environment issue of ABR. The Eucalypt Fellowship is supported by Eucalypt Australia and the ABR Patrons.
ABR Patrons' Fellowship
Philip Jones is the ABR Patrons’ Fellow. His essay titled ‘Beyond Songlines’ is revisionist article of considerable importance examining the Bruce Chatwin phenomenon thirty years on – Jones is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading ethnographers and anthropologists. The essay was published in the September 2017 issue of Australian Book Review. We are able to fund this Fellowship with support from our many supporters. We thank all our Patrons.
ABR RAFT Fellowship
Alan Atkinson, one of Australia's most distinguished and lauded historians, is the recipient of the inaugural ABR RAFT Fellowship. The Fellowship is funded by the Religious Advancement Foundation Trust and is intended to consider the role and significance of religion in society and culture. Alan Atkinson's essay, 'How Do We Live With Ourselves? The Australian National Conscience', was published in the September 2016 issue of Australian Book Review.
ABR Laureate's Fellowship
Sydney poet Michael Aiken was the inaugural ABR Laureate's Fellow, chosen by ABR Laureate David Malouf. Michael Aiken used his Fellowship to write an extended narrative poem in the epic tradition. Entitled 'Satan Repentant', this is a book-length poem about revenge, resentment, and remorse. ABR published a long extract from the poem in its August 2016 issue. Michael Aiken's first collection, A Vicious Example (Grand Parade 2014), was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize. His poetry and prose have appeared in journals in Australia and overseas. This Fellowship is possible because of the generosity of ABR Patrons.
ABR Dahl Trust Fellowship
Award-winning author Ashley Hay is the 2015 ABR Dahl Trust Fellow. Her long article, ‘The Forest at the Edge of Time’ examines ‘what our mongrel trees tell us about our past, the present, and the future’. It appears in this year’s Environment issue. Ashley Hay has published several books, including Gum: The Story of Eucalypts and Their Champions (2002), The Railwayman’s Wife (2013), which won the Colin Roderick Award, and (as editor) Best Australian Science Writing 2014. This is the second ABR Fellowship to be funded by the Bjarne K. Dahl Trust.
ABR Patrons’ Fellowship
The third ABR Patrons’ Fellowship was for a substantial article on any topic. Shannon Burns was appointed in November 2014. His article, entitled ‘The Scientist of his own experience: A profile of Gerald Murnane’, in the August 2015 issue, combines investigative journalism, critical analysis, and literary and historical research to profile award-winning novelist Gerald Murnane.
ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship
The third ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship was for a substantial article on any topic. James McNamara was appointed in November 2014. His essay, entitled ‘The Golden Age of Television?’, considers the ascendancy of television drama and its cultural significance. The article was the main feature in our inaugural Film and Television issue in April 2015.
ABR Dahl Trust Fellowship
Australian Book Review congratulates the recipient of the ABR Dahl Trust Fellowship, Danielle Clode, for her essay: ‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees’. Clode’s essay examines the representation of eucalypt forests in Australian culture and the implications this has for debates over forest resources. This is the first ABR Fellowship to be funded by the Bjarne K. Dahl Trust.
ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship
The second ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship was for a substantial article on any aspect of the performing arts. Andrew Fuhrmann was appointed in May 2013 and his article ‘Patrick White: A theatre of his own’ was published in our November 2013 issue. In it Fuhrmann examines the plays of Patrick White and his influence on contemporary theatre.
ABR George Hicks Foundation Fellowship
The ABR George Hicks Foundation Fellowship was for a substantial article with a focus on the visual arts. Helen Ennis was the seventh fellow and her article (‘Olive Cotton at Spring Forest’) was the main feature of the 2013 July-August Art issue. In her article Ennis offers a fascinating reading of the great modernist photographer's second marriage and gradual re-emergence as a photographer in the latter decades of her life.
ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship
The ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship was for a substantial article with a literary studies focus. Kerryn Goldsworthy was the sixth Fellow. Goldsworthy is a former Editor of ABR and one of Australia’s most prolific and respected critics. In her article, titled ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, Goldsworthy examines the current state of book reviewing in Australia, online and off. ABR published the article in May 2013.
ABR Patrons’ Fellowship
The second ABR Patrons’ Fellowship was for a substantial article with a film, media, or TV focus. Ruth Starke was the fifth Fellow. Starke’s project, titled ‘Media Don’, focuses on the resilient and charismatic South Australian politician Don Dunstan, a long-serving premier who skilfully used the media to fashion his persona and perpetuate his influence, but who in the end was brought down by it. Starke, who used the extensive resources of the Don Dunstan Collection held by the Flinders University Library Special Collections, also sheds light on the private man. Her article is published in the March 2013 issue of ABR.
ABR Copyright Agency Fellowship
The ABR Copyright Agency Fellowship was part of ABR’s Asian project, with the generous support of Copyright Agency through its Cultural Fund. Jennifer Lindsay was the fourth Fellow. Lindsay wrote a profile of the Indonesian writer Goenawan Mohamad – activist, journalist, editor, essayist, poet, commentator, theatre director, and playwright – whose essays she has been translating for two decades. The profile, 'Man on the Margins', in the October 2012 issue of ABR, focuses on the man and his work, but provides an understanding of the context in which Goenawan Mohamad writes and of the complexities of Indonesia.
ABR Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship
This ABR Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship was for a substantial article with an Indigenous focus. Felicity Plunkett was the third Fellow. Her project was titled ‘Sound Bridges: A Profile of Gurrumul’, a profile of this internationally acclaimed Indigenous artist and his reception. Her essay is published in the June-July 2015 issue of ABR.
Plunkett is a freelance writer, critic, and lecturer. She has a BA (Hons) and PhD (Sydney) in Literature. She is the current Poetry Editor of the University of Queensland Press, which recently published her anthology, Thirty Australian Poets. She has taught in several Australian universities and has often written for ABR.
ABR Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship
This ABR Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship was for a substantial article with a literary studies focus. Rachel Buchanan was the second Fellow. She is a lecturer in Journalism at La Trobe University, Melbourne, holds a Phd in History from Monash University, and has worked as a journalist for The Age. She is the author of The Parihaka Album: Lest We Forget (2009).
Rachel's long article on archival uses of private papers appears in the December 2011– January 2012 issue of the magazine. In ‘Sweeping up the Ashes’, she investigates the politics and purposes of collecting personal papers at a time when writers, collectors, and institutions are caught between the mystique and permanence of material made by hand and the banality and fragility of machine-made works.
ABR Patrons’ Fellowship
The first ABR Patrons’ Fellowship was for a substantial article with a literary studies focus. Patrick Allington was the inaugural Fellow. Allington’s project was a critique of the Miles Franklin (‘What is Australia Anyway?: The Glorious Limitations of the Miles Franklin Literary Award’). In an article in the June 2011 issue of ABR, he reflects on the Award’s history, strengths, quirks, and past controversies, and fascinatingly, elicits comments from some of the major authors whose works have been excluded from consideration because they don’t ‘present Australian Life in any of its phases’.
Each year Australian Book Review offers several Fellowships for published writers. ABR Fellowships are intended to reward outstanding Australian writers, to enhance ABR through the publication of long-form journalism, and to advance the magazine’s commitment to ideas and critical debate. Some Fellowships are themed - others are not.
ABR Fellowships are funded by the magazine's Patrons and in some cases by philanthropic foundations.
We look for stylish and enjoyable journalism that will appeal to our broad international readership.
All published Australian authors are eligible to apply for the Fellowships. When we advertise them, we seek proposals for a substantial article. The Fellowship program offers the successful applicant a chance to produce an extended collaborative non-fiction essay in consultation with ABR. Unlike the Calibre Essay Prize, the Fellowship program is not for finished essays or articles.
Applicants are expected to demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of Australian Book Review - its style, its content, its mission. The Fellowships are not aimed at those who are unfamiliar with ABR. If you do not currently read the magazine, you should purchase copies or subscribe before applying for a Fellowship.
Click here to find out more about current ABR Fellowships
Click here to find out more about published ABR Fellowships
Please read our list of Frequently Asked Questions before contacting us with a question about the ABR Fellowship program.
ABR thanks all of its Patrons who support the magazine through tax-deductible donations of $250 or more. Without this support, the Fellowship program would not exist in its present form.
'My year as an ABR Fellow has been the most rewarding of my writing life. This year I've not only been encouraged, but supported, to press my ear against our culture's chest and listen to its heartbeat. I'm indebted to the ABR team, and its warm and generous community of readers and donors, for giving me the chance to grow into my profession.'
‘The ABR Patrons’ Fellowship is a laudable initiative, and I am grateful and fortunate to have been the inaugural fellow.’
Patrick Allington, ABR Fellow (2010)
‘Making your way as a young Australian writer or literary critic is tough. Funding is limited and opportunities are few. The ABR Fellowship enabled me to do what so many Australian writers can’t: spend extended time on a single piece of work under the guidance of a distinguished editor.’
James McNamara, ABR Fellow (2014)
Patrick Allington was the recipient of the inaugural ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $5000. His novel, Figurehead (Black Inc. 2009) was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His short fiction and book criticism appears in Australian newspapers, magazines, and journals, including ABR.
The June 2011 issue of Australian Book Review includes Allington's major critique of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, ‘What is Australia Anyway?: The Glorious Limitations of the Miles Franklin Literary Award’. This long, nuanced article examines the controversy surrounding the Award’s dual terms: ‘awarded for the Novel of the year which is of the highest literary merit and which must present Australian Life in any of its phases.’
Allington spent several weeks reflecting on the Award's history, strengths, quirks, and past controversies. Drawing on extensive research, including interviews with key writers and judges involved in the Award’s fifty-four year history, Allington challenges notions of what makes a book sufficiently ‘Australian’ to fulfil the Award’s criteria, and discovers that the ‘line between ineligible and eligible is increasingly nebulous and subject to case-by-case examination’.
This provocative essay casts the nation’s most prestigious prize for novelists in a new light.
‘To be a true believer in 2011, I believe, involves recognising how diverse Australian literature has become, but not in a way that avoids or simplifies the debate about what our best books are ...’
Some of the writers interviewedDavid Malouf, Brian Castro, Peter Carey, Delia Falconer, Nicholas Jose, and Christopher Koch.
Some of the novels examined
Christopher Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously (1979), Frank Moorhouse’s Grand Days (1994), Elizabeth Jolley’s The Georges’ Wife (1994), Delia Falconer’s The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers (2006), Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America (2010), Steven Amsterdam’sThings We Didn’t See Coming (2010), and Jon Bauer’s Rocks in the Belly (2011).
About the ABR Patrons' Fellowship
The Fellowship scheme is intended to reward outstanding Australian writers, to enhance ABR through the publication of major works of literary journalism, and to advance the magazine’s commitment to critical debates and literary values.
The ABR Patrons’ Fellowship is funded by our Patrons. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of our Patrons, who have supported the magazine through tax-deductible donations of $250 or more.
These donations are vital for the magazine’s future.
‘The best journal of words and ideas. Supporters can be proud of their judgement.’
John Bryson, author and ABR Patron
Winner of the 2009 ABR Reviewing Competition
Only in America
Roger’s World: Toward a New Understanding of Animals
by Charles Siebert
$29.95 pb, 224 pp, 9781921372865
Ostensibly, Roger’s World is an account of Charles Siebert’s whistle-stop tour of primate retirement homes in America. By the author’s reckoning, there are approximately two to three thousand chimpanzees in America, as well as a substantial number of their primate cousins. He travels across the country, visiting captive chimpanzees on an ‘impromptu farewell tour of our own kidnapped and caged primal selves’, until he encounters Roger, with whom he feels a profound connection.
If one is inclined to accept the disturbing idea of retirement homes for chimpanzees as only possible in America, Siebert’s final night with Roger, at the Center for Great Apes, in Wauchope, Florida, forces a reassessment of such easy presumptions. The hours of silence between man and ape lead to an exploration of the broader context of humanity’s relationship with animals. Siebert laments a wildlife ‘endgame’ in which he insists hundreds of animals are damaged and diseased in the name of research, and entire species exposed to nervous distress due to human activities. This leads him to the discomfiting conclusion that if we ever figure out how to talk to the animals, there may be none (bar those we have already captured and irreparably damaged) left to answer.
The latent damage caused by human–animal interactions is brought home during the nocturnal stare-downs between Roger and Siebert, in which Siebert contemplates Maurice Temerlin’s book Lucy: Growing Up Human (1976), a harrowing account of Temerlin’s ‘psycho-anthropological’ experiment to raise Lucy, the chimpanzee, as a human child. Lucy lived in the Temerlin home as part of the family. She learnt sign-language, raised a pet cat and entertained visitors. After living with the Temerlins for ten years, Lucy’s ‘parents’ decided to release her into the wild. They spent three days with her at a holding compound in Africa before returning to America. Fortunately their babysitter, Janis Carter, took it upon herself to stay for the six years it took Lucy to adapt to life in the wild. A photograph of Carter’s reunion with Lucy six months after she left her to fend for herself is an extremely distressing image. Lucy’s breeder said her release was the ‘most cruel damn thing that could have been done’. One can only agree wholeheartedly and hope that similar experiments will never be permitted again.
Siebert’s subtle meanderings between Roger’s and Lucy’s stories help throw the twin potentialities of destruction and recuperation within the human empathetic impulse into sharp relief. While the Temerlins’ abandonment of Lucy was unquestionably reprehensible, Carter had no way of knowing if her actions were ultimately helpful or harmful. Nor can Siebert, as he holds Roger’s gaze, be sure how his actions will affect Roger. He hesitates to offer Roger’s hand, as doing so could have dire consequences for the emotionally damaged chimpanzee, yet in spite of his reservations he does finally reach out and touch Roger. The result is positive, but Siebert had no way of knowing such before making the gesture.
Woven throughout Siebert’s seamless digressions about human–animal relationships is a broader evolution–Creation debate, in which Siebert displays particular prejudice against Creationists and individuals who continue to breed and use chimpanzees for entertainment purposes. His encounters with both groups are peppered with words like ‘scary’, ‘suspicious’, and ‘nefarious’, and he asserts: ‘the exotic-animals trade is, by and large, licensed and legal, and, like the right to bear arms in the United States, just as staunchly defended.’
Siebert’s passion is admirable, and he offers excellent insights into the blinkering effect of entrenched language choices, but while one can understand his frustration with people who enjoy all of the benefits of science yet deny one of its foundation theories, it is harder to sympathise with his negative opinion of the breeders he encounters in his travels. No doubt there are ignorant and ‘nefarious’ breeders, but the ones he interviews appear to care deeply for their chimpanzees. His use of negative language and his alignment of exotic animal breeders with groups that provoke emotive reactions introduce a discordant note into an otherwise effortless style.
Roger’s World is enjoyable, and contains some fascinating asides into ‘humanzee’ lore and the strange history of animal trials in human courts of law. It is not, however, a feel-good account of human largesse toward animals that have outlived their usefulness. Current social and economic problems make it easy to overlook the many animals that are voiceless victims of increased consumption and inequality; victims with ‘minds enough to lose and histories that can only hasten the process’. Siebert’s timely narrative suggests that it is time for deeper consideration of our relationship to animals; time perhaps, to reappraise the gap between our ethical and moral obligations to animals and our actions.
Kathleen Steele lives in Sydney and has recently undertaken a Creative PhD with a focus on Australian Literature at Macquarie University. Her work has been published in Zinewest 2008 and Skive, and online at The Australian Ejournal of Theology and Southern Ocean Review.
Second place in the 2009 ABR Reviewing Competition
by David Malouf
$29.95 hb, 224 pp, 97817416683
In 1939, with the invasion of Paris imminent, the French writer and activist Simone Weil fled to the South. Among the papers and notebooks she took with her was an as-yet-unpublished essay, L’Iliade ou le Poème de la Force. Understandably, Weil read Homer’s martial epic through the prism of her own circumstances and time, seeing in the imminent sack of Troy, and the wholesale slaughter and enslavement of its population, a prophetic metaphor for what was about to engulf her native city and Europe. ‘The true hero, the real subject, the core of the Iliad,’ she wrote, ‘is force.’
Weil is right. The Iliad is the ultimate poem of ‘force’, of violence and its celebration. Each of the twenty-four books of the poem is steeped in a violence of the bloodiest and most anatomically precise kind. Swords cleave brains, genitals are hacked, buttocks pierced with arrows. A Trojan charioteer is ‘fished’ out over the rail of his chariot on the end of a spear which has been driven through his right jawbone, its blunt flanges locking behind his teeth. Yet Weil’s essay is also only partly right, her Iliad missing both ‘the wild joy … of archaic warfare’ (George Steiner) and the countervailing Homeric values of honour, piety, compassion and right conduct.
Not so Ransom, David Malouf’s brilliant recent reprise of this ancient tale. Malouf holds the crucial balance between elements fundamental to the Homeric world: ecstatic violence, the proper celebration of martial honour, and the sacred bonds to gods and to family. In Part One, for example, Malouf presents a scene of hubristic bestiality in which an insane Achilles drags the butchered corpse of Hector, Troy’s defender, behind his chariot, while Priam and Hecuba look down from the ramparts wailing at the dishonour being done to their son’s body. In Part Two, Malouf sets against this a scene of great tenderness, even domesticity, between Priam and Hecuba, Priam’s queen and lifelong companion, as they discuss ways to ransom Hector’s body, their fears for their city, for their family and for the savage, separate fates which they know lie ahead for each of them.
Malouf reads both sides of this ancient coin. Achilles, he demonstrates, also acts from within a hell of his own, caught in a self-consuming rage so deep and blind that no gesture of revenge, no act of despoliation heaped on Hector’s corpse, can be enough to expunge his own suffering (this over the death of Patroclus, his lifelong companion). In fact only one agent can set him free from this spell of mad despair – and that, in Malouf’s dramatic irony, is Priam himself, his sworn enemy. It is Priam, of all people, who opens up for Achilles the possibility of recovering his lost humanity.
Malouf has Priam coming by night to the Achean camp, accompanied by a humble carter, to beg for the return of his son’s body. His plea is couched in the simplest and most affecting terms. First, he reminds Achilles of his own son, Neoptolemus, growing up fatherless in far-off Scyros and then begs him ‘as a father, and as one poor mortal to another – to accept the ransom I bring and give me back the body of my son’. In adopting such common, unkingly language, Priam reveals the double irony that Malouf has been playing with all along: the fact that Priam himself, by this act of supplication, has been freed from the iron shackles of royal stasis. In the risk he has taken, in opening his life up to Chance through this act of submission to a hated enemy, Priam ransoms his own cramped humanity.
Malouf’s novel is studded with these inventive and elaborate ironies, conveyed in a language that is by turns lyrical, sinewy, and glitteringly simple and moving. Nowhere is this more evident than in the climatic scene, in which Priam appears in the smoky darkness of the Greek hut where Achilles is seated at table. In Malouf’s thrilling (Shakespearean) inversion, Achilles looks up and sees not Priam but his own father, Peleus:
‘Father,’ he says again, aloud this time, overcome with tenderness for this old man and his trembling frailty. ‘Peleus! Father!’ great Achilles, eyes aswarm, is weeping. With a cry he falls on one knee, and leans out to clasp his father’s robe.
The illusion doesn’t last, of course, but it has done its work. The identification is so strong – the paternal-filial bond so powerfully invoked – that Achilles must answer to it, and grant Priam’s wish.
According to his afterword, David Malouf has taken nearly sixty years to find the way to write this minor miracle of a novel. We should be grateful for the brief intermission. Every page has been worth the wait.
See also Peter Rose’s review of Ransom, which appeared in the May 2009 edition, in ABR's online archive: HERE