Showing all posts tagged: Australian literature

2022 Australia Council Awards recipients announcement

9 August 2022

The Australia Council Awards recognise artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives whose work contributes to Australia’s diverse cultural life. Among recipients of the 2022 awards announced yesterday, was Robert Dessaix, a Tasmanian based writer of literary non-fiction, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement in Literature award.

Literary non-fiction? I had to look that up. A few of the books I read are classified as literary fiction, but this is the first time I’ve encountered the non-fiction genus.

Literary nonfiction is an elusive creature in literature known by many names. You might hear literary nonfiction called narrative nonfiction or creative nonfiction. Regardless of the name, literary nonfiction tells a story, typically in a creative way. Therefore, creative nonfiction writers use literary devices and writing conventions seen in poetry and fiction, but these accounts are based on actual facts or observations.

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Everything Feels Like the End of the World by Else Fitzgerald

8 August 2022
Everything Feels Like the End of the World, by Else Fitzgerald, book cover

Everything Feels Like the End of the World (published by Allen & Unwin, 2 August 2022), by Mornington Peninsula based Australian writer Else Fitzgerald, seems like a book title for the times some days.

Winner of the 2019 Richell Prize for emerging writers, Fitzgerald written a collection of short stories, exploring a number of chilling dystopian futures for Australia, set both in the near and distant future:

Each story is anchored, at its heart, in what it means to be human: grief, loss, pain and love. A young woman is faced with a difficult choice about her pregnancy in a community ravaged by doubt. An engineer working on a solar shield protecting the Earth shares memories of their lover with an AI companion. Two archivists must decide what is worth saving when the world is flooded by rising sea levels. In a heavily policed state that preferences the human and punishes the different, a mother gives herself up to save her transgenic child.

Nanci Nott, writing for Artshub, describes Everything Feels Like the End of the World as an engaging collection of speculative short fictions:

Each tale is intensely personal, vibrant with specificity, and written with precision. Characters don’t just exist within their settings; entire worlds inhabit these characters. A master of minutiae and memory, Fitzgerald creates an intricate universe of befores-and-afters, sacrifices and consequences, mundane joys and darkest days.

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Applications open for the 2022 Heyman Mentoring Award

25 July 2022

Sydney based author Kathryn Heyman is offering Australian writers aged twenty-six and over, from backgrounds of social and economic disadvantage, the opportunity to be mentored by her for a year, and have their manuscript appraised, and possibly published, by HarperCollins.

Heyman, who founded the Australian Writers Mentoring Program, has written seven books, including Keep Your Hands On the Wheel in 1999, Captain Starlight’s Apprentice in 2006, and Fury, a memoir, in 2020.

Applicants, who should also be writing a book with issues of class and economic disadvantage as themes, have until Tuesday 20 September 2022, to apply. Read more about the Heyman Mentoring Award here.

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Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down wins the 2022 Miles Franklin literary award

20 July 2022
Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down bookcover

It’s a red letter day in Australian literature, with Bodies of Light, by Jennifer Down being named winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Here’s the book trailer for Bodies of Light, followed by an outline of the premise.

So by the grace of a photograph that had inexplicably gone viral, Tony had found me. Or: he’d found Maggie. I had no way of knowing whether he was nuts or not; whether he might go to the cops. Maybe that sounds paranoid, but I don’t think it’s so ridiculous. People have gone to prison for much lesser things than accusations of child-killing.A quiet, small-town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she’s reluctant to revisit: dark memories and unspoken trauma, warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss. She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?

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Going blue for Miles Franklin week 2022

18 July 2022
disassociated Miles Franklin week logo

The winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin literary prize will be announced on Wednesday 20 July 2022, and to mark the momentous occasion I’ve remixed the disassociated logo with the Miles Franklin hues of blue for this week.

I’m a big fan of literary awards, as they’re great places to find quality reading suggestions. Of the six titles on the 2021 shortlist, I’ve so far read The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey, the 2021 winner, plus Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos, The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts, and The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott.

To date I’ve not been disappointed. But for more recent reading ideas, check out the 2022 Miles Franklin longlist, announced in May, and the shortlist from last month.

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The 2022 Ned Kelly Awards shortlists

6 July 2022

The 2022 Ned Kelly Awards shortlists have been announced by the Australian Crime Writers Association. This year the work of nineteen writers has been shortlisted in four categories.

Best debut crime fiction

  • Sweet Jimmy, by Bryan Brown
  • Shadow Over Edmund Street, by Suzanne Frankham
  • Cutters End, by Margaret Hickey
  • Banjawarn, by Josh Kemp

Best true crime

  • The Mother Wound, by Amani Haydar
  • Larrimah, by Caroline Graham and Kylie Stevenson
  • Banquet: The untold story of Adelaide’s family murders, by Debi Marshall
  • A Witness of Fact, by Drew Rooke

Best international crime fiction

  • Case Study, by Graeme Macrae Burnet
  • The Heron’s Cry, by Ann Cleeves
  • The Maid, by Nita Prose
  • Cry Wolf, by Hans Rosenfeldt

Best crime fiction

  • The Enemy Within, by Tim Ayliffe
  • The Others, by Mark Brandi
  • You Had it Coming, by B M Carroll
  • The Chase, by Candice Fox
  • Kill Your Brother, by Jack Heath
  • The Family Doctor, by Debra Oswald
  • The Deep, by Kyle Perry

The winners will be announced in early August 2022.

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Books to read by Indigenous authors suggested by Anita Heiss

6 July 2022

We’re in the middle of National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee week, or NAIDOC week, in Australia, which is a celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It’s also a good opportunity to focus on the literature of Indigenous and First Nation people, and Twenty reasons you should read blak, by author and activist Anita Heiss, is an awesome starting point. The suggestions were made during a speech Heiss gave at the Blak and Bright Festival in 2016.

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2022 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist

4 July 2022

A total of twenty-one books, in four categories, including the inaugural Karijia Award, have been named on the 2022 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist, a literary award which is hosted by the Wilderness Society.

Notable among those included on the shortlist is retired Australian Football League player Adam Goodes, whose book, Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country, co-written with Ellie Laing, has been named on the Karijia Award shortlist, a prize which recognises the best in First Nations storytelling for children.

Picture Fiction:

  • The Accidental Penguin Hotel, by Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Dean Jones
  • 9 things to remember (and one to forget), written and illustrated by Alison Binks
  • Sharing, by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson
  • One Potoroo: A Story of Survival, by Penny Jaye, illustrated by Alicia Rogerson
  • The River, by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr
  • Saving Seal. The Plastic Predicament, by Diane Jackson Hill, illustrated by Craig Smith

Non-fiction:

  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature, by Sami Bayly
  • The Australian Climate Change Book, by Polly Marsden, illustrated by Chris Nixon
  • The Way of the Weedy Seadragon, by Anne Morgan, illustrated by Lois Bury
  • The Gentle Genius of Trees, written and illustrated by Philip Bunting

Fiction:

  • Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo, written and illustrated by Kylie Howarth
  • Bailey Finch Takes a Stand, by Ingrid Laguna
  • The Good Times of Pelican Rise: Save the Joeys, by Samone Amba

The Karijia Award for Children’s Literature:

  • Sea Country, by Aunty Patsy Cameron, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy
  • Sharing, by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson
  • Warna-Manda Baby Earth Walk, by Susan Betts, illustrated by Mandy Foot and Susan Betts
  • Wiradjuri Country, by Larry Brandy
  • Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country, by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, illustrated by David Hardy
  • The Story Doctors, by Boori Monty Pryor, illustrated by Rita Sinclair
  • The River, by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr
  • Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest, by Diane Lucas and Ben Tyler, illustrated by Emma Long

The winners will announced during Nature Book Week, which takes place from Monday 5 September 2022 through to Sunday 11 September.

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The Eulogy, new autofiction by Jackie Bailey

4 July 2022
The Eulogy, by Jackie Bailey, book cover

The Eulogy, published by Hardie Grant in June 2022, is the debut autofiction novel of Australian author Jackie Bailey, and if the description autofiction is indicative, then the story is based, in part at least, on Bailey’s own life:

It’s winter in Logan, south-east Queensland, and still warm enough to sleep in a car at night if you have nowhere else to go. But Kathy can’t sleep. Her husband is on her blocked caller list and she’s running from a kidnapping charge, a Tupperware container of 300 sleeping pills in her glovebox. She has driven from Sydney to plan a funeral with her five surviving siblings (most of whom she hardly speaks to) because their sister Annie is finally, blessedly, inconceivably dead from the brain tumour she was diagnosed with twenty-five years ago, the year everything changed. Kathy wonders – she has always wondered – did Annie get sick to protect her? And if so, from what?

Autofiction, in case you’re wondering — as I was — is term first used by late French author Serge Doubrovsky, when he published his novel Fils in 1977, although he by no means pioneered the genre. The autofiction like blending of autobiography with fiction, can be found in the writing of Sappho, a Greek poet who died in around 570 BCE.

Autofiction combines two mutually inconsistent narrative forms, namely autobiography and fiction. An author may decide to recount their life in the third person, to modify significant details and characters, using fictive subplots and imagined scenarios with real life characters in the service of a search for self.

Some titles by James Joyce, and Jack Kerouac, who both worked and died well before 1977, can be seen as examples of autofiction, while On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, written in 2019 by Ocean Vuong, and Outline, from 2015, by Rachel Cusk, are more recent instances.

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A history of Australian literary scandals

29 June 2022

The recent John Hughes plagiarism fracas is but one of numerous scandals in Australian literature, some more audacious than others, writes Melbourne based Australian journalist and author Thuy On.

In 1990, Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan was released, purportedly about the journey of a middle-aged, white American woman and her interactions with a group of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Morgan stated the book was inspired by actual experience, however research in central and Western Australia failed to uncover any evidence of her presence in the area or the existence of the tribe in question.

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2022 ASA/Varuna Ray Koppe Young Writers Residency

29 June 2022

Applications for the 2022 ASA/Varuna Ray Koppe Young Writers Residency are open until Friday 29 July 2022. The residency was established in memory of the late Ray Koppe, by her family. Koppe worked for many years assisting with the administration of the Australian Society of Authors.

Each year, the Australian Society of Authors awards a two-week residential fellowship to a writer under the age of 35 who is as yet unpublished.

Danielle Binks and Hannah Bent, are among past winners.

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The 2022 Miles Franklin shortlist

23 June 2022

The 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist was unveiled this evening, with the following five novels making the cut:

Awesome to see Grimmish by Michael Winkler, on the list, now the first self-published novel to reach the Miles Franklin shortlist.

The winner will be named on Wednesday 20 July 2022.

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Megan Williams wins 2022 Text Prize for unpublished manuscripts

23 June 2022

Brisbane based former employment lawyer Megan Williams has been named winner of the 2022 Text Prize, with her debut unpublished novel manuscript Let’s Never Speak of this Again.

Having won the prize for young adult and children’s fiction though, Let’s Never Speak of this Again will not remain unpublished for too much longer.

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Grimmish Michael Winkler’s self-published Miles Franklin entry

22 June 2022
Grimmish by Michael Winkler, book cover

Grimmish by Michael Winkler — along with the other books on this year’s Miles Franklin longlist — has somewhat found itself in the shadows as a consequence of the plagiarism controversy surrounding John Hughes’ novel The Dogs, which has since been removed from the longlist.

This could have been unfortunate as the 2021 title by the Melbourne based Australian author has an historic claim to fame. Grimmish is the first ever self-published novel to be included on the longlist of the long running Australian literary prize.

Variously described as “exploded nonfiction“, and an “experimental historical novel“, Grimmish recounts the story of Italian American boxer Joe Grim, and his tour of Australia in 1908 and 1909. Grim who fought in over one-hundred-and-fifty bouts, only prevailed on twenty-four occasions. That didn’t prevent him from developing a reputation for his showmanship and extraordinary physical resilience, and earning the moniker of the “the human punching bag” in the process.

But Grim isn’t the only player in this story with tenacity. Like many authors, Winkler struggled to find a publisher interested in looking at his manuscript. But that was only the beginning. He was also subjected to numerous taunts and sneers, being told Grimmish, with its unconventional format, was “wearisome”, and “repellent.” Publishing houses, it seemed, did not want to take a punt on a book they felt certain would not sell.

At that point Winkler decided to self-publish. But self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted. In addition to writing a novel, an author is required to take on all the functions of a publishing house, editing, printing, marketing, and distribution, among them. An abundance of resolve and stamina — matching that, I dare say, of a champion boxer — is required.

The Miles Franklin shortlist will be announced tomorrow, Thursday 23 June 2022, and Grimmish has more than a few fans gunning for its inclusion. Rave reviews aside — the novel has garnered a respectable 4.25 out of five rating on Goodreads, Grimmish is almost deserving of a shortlist place purely on account of Winkler’s drive and determination in getting his book published.

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Brouhaha buys film rights for The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

22 June 2022

Here’s the book to screen adaptation we’ve been waiting for. The film rights for Sydney based Australian author Charlotte Wood’s highly acclaimed 2019 novel The Weekend, have been bought by Brouhaha Entertainment, a production company with offices in London and Sydney.

The 2019 book, published by Allen & Unwin, follows three friends for one last, life-changing long weekend, during a subtropical Sydney Christmas. As they declutter the beach home belonging to the fourth member of their quartet, who died the previous year, there is an escalating sense of tension as frustrations and secrets bubble to the surface.

And to the obvious question, who are they going to cast?

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Robert Lukins talks about his novel Loveland with Ben Hobson

20 June 2022

Melbourne based Australian author Robert Lukins discusses his latest novel Loveland, with Brisbane based writer and teacher Ben Hobson, on Tuesday 28 June 2022, from 7PM until 9PM.

Robert’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Everlasting Sunday, was shortlisted for a number of awards including NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in two categories. His second novel, Loveland, was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in March 2022. His work has appeared in Crikey, Overland, The Big Issue, Rolling Stone, Broadsheet, Time Off, Inpress, and other odd places.

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Kathy Lette: impale your enemies on the end of your pen

20 June 2022

Australian born London based author Kathy Lette co-wrote her first book, Puberty Blues, a proto-feminist, coming of age novel in 1979, with Gabrielle Carey.

The book sent shockwaves through Australian society at the time, with, among other things, gritty depictions of adolescent sex. Puberty Blues was adapted to film by Australian filmmaker Bruce Beresford in 1981, and later in 2012, made into a TV series.

Lette has authored twelve books since Puberty Blues, and in a recent piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote about the joys of putting pen to paper:

So, wannabe authors, if you have a story to tell, pick up your pen and get scribbling. It’s worth it for the poetic justice alone: impaling enemies on the end of your pen is so satisfying. Best of all, most people only get to have the last word on their epitaph. But writers get to have the final say with every novel: The End.

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Upswell: the author publisher relationship is one of trust

18 June 2022

A statement from Terri-ann White of Upswell, publisher of Australian author John Hughes novel The Dogs, made in the wake of additional allegations of plagiarism by Guardian Australia:

I have published many writers who use collage and bricolage and other approaches to weaving in other voices and materials to their own work. All of them have acknowledged their sources within the book, usually in a listing of precisely where these borrowings come from. I should have pushed John Hughes harder on his lack of the standard mode of book acknowledgements where any credits to other writers (with permissions or otherwise), and the thanks to those nearest and dearest, are held. I regret that now, as you might expect.

I think the sympathy of most people lies with Upswell. As White points out, the relationship between writer and publisher is one of trust. A publisher cannot be expected to check every last sentence in a manuscript to ensure there are no duplications between it and another work. It is the author’s obligation to declare such borrowings, and is something just about all do.

On the other hand, it is also unrealistic to expect works to be completely devoid of references to other titles. For example, I could understand how a sentence — perhaps read in a book years ago — might linger in the mind of a writer to the point they come to think of it as theirs. And while I’m not sure many people would expect to see upwards of sixty instances of such borrowings in a single book, authors referencing each other’s work is, and always has been, intrinsic to writing.

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John Hughes accused of more instances of plagiarism

16 June 2022

Allegations of further instances of plagiarism have been levelled against Australian author John Hughes, following a Guardian Australia investigation which identified almost sixty similarities between Hughes’ 2021 novel The Dogs, and a 1985 book, The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich.

Although Hughes apologised, describing his use of the phrases and passages from Alexievich’s title as inadvertent, another probe has found The Dogs — which has since been withdrawn from the longlist of this year’s Miles Franklin literary award — apparently contains sentences drawn from other notable literary works, including The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina.

It has since been revealed that The Dogs also contains passages which are similar to books including The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front. Guardian Australia has cross-referenced all the similarities between Hughes’ work and those classic texts and found some cases in which whole sentences were identical or where just one word had changed.

Some people might have been prepared to give Hughes the benefit of the doubt after he apologised for using Alexievich’s work, given the explanation he offered seemed some what plausible. Unfortunately it is difficult to look passed these latest allegations. I’d been looking forward to reading The Dogs, as I do any title on the Miles Franklin longlist.

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The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner a memoir by Grace Tame

14 June 2022
The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner a memoir by Grace Tame, bookcover

The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner is a memoir by activist, advocate for survivors of sexual assault, and former Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, being published by Pan Macmillan Australia in September 2022.

From a young age, her life was defined by uncertainty – by trauma and strength, sadness and hope, terrible lows and wondrous highs. As a teenager she found the courage to speak up after experiencing awful and ongoing child sexual abuse. This fight to find her voice would not be her last. In 2021 Grace stepped squarely into the public eye as the Australian of the Year, and was the catalyst for a tidal wave of conversation and action. Australians from all walks of life were inspired and moved by her fire and passion. Here she was using her voice, and encouraging others to use theirs too.

Tame is also a talented artist, having illustrated the artwork for the cover of her book, “using a cheapo $1 ballpoint pen from Woolies,” and in the past has accepted commissions from John Cleese, and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode.

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