Showing all posts tagged: Australian writing

Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight, by Steven Carroll

14 April 2022
Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight, by Steven Carroll, book cover

Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight (published by HarperCollins, March 2022), by Melbourne base Australian novelist Steven Carroll, re-imagines a different, perhaps happier, life for Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the troubled first wife of English author and poet, T. S. Eliot.

London, June 1940. With help from friends, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the wife of celebrated poet TS Eliot, is about to effect a daring escape from Northumberland House, the private insane asylum where she has been held for the past four years. Her family, and most particularly her husband, think she’s insane – and maybe she has been, in the past, Vivienne thinks, mad with love, that is, but she is starting to finally feel like herself again.

There is an old law, Vivienne has been told, that if a person can break out of an asylum and stay free for thirty days, proving they can look after themselves, they can’t make you go back. But closing in on Vivienne is the young Detective Sergeant Stephen Minter, a man with a hidden past of his own, who has orders to track her down…

Eliot is often referred to, though he does not feature as a character, while the presence of the police officer, Stephen Minter, at times lends Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight, the final instalment of The Eliot Quartet, with the feel of a police procedural, says Dennis Haskell, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald:

The novel is in part a detective story, but not your usual crime caper. Vivienne’s crime is not really a crime at all; Minter is the opposite of any hard-boiled cop; and Goodnight is not plot-driven. Carroll’s interest is always in character, and his novels are more thoughtful and meditative than dramatic.

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The Lessons, a new novel by John Purcell

31 March 2022
The Lessons, by John Purcell, book cover

The Lessons, published by 4th Estate/HarperCollins Publishers, is the latest novel by Kent, England, based Australian author John Purcell, and follows on from his earlier books, The Girl On The Page, and The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy.

The first few sentences of the synopsis for The Lessons suggests it is partly a lost-love story:

1961: When teens Daisy and Harry meet, it feels so right they promise to love each other forever, but in 1960s England everything is stacked against them: class, education, expectations. When Daisy is sent by her parents to live with her glamorous, bohemian Aunt Jane, a novelist working on her second book, she is confronted by adult truths and suffers a loss of innocence that flings her far from the one good thing in her life, Harry.

1983: Jane Curtis, now a famous novelist, is at a prestigious book event in New York, being interviewed about her life and work, including a novel about the traumatic coming of age of a young woman. But she won’t answer the interviewer’s probing questions. What is she trying to hide?

We see that Aunt Jane has become an established author, but what has become of Daisy and Harry, the apparently star-crossed lovers? Has her fame stemmed from appropriating their story? Who knows, but there’s a hint here she knows more than she’s letting on. Maybe.

The Lessons will be on bookshelves from 13 April 2022, and Purcell will be travelling to Australia to promote the title. The book launch takes place at Readings Emporium, in Melbourne, on Thursday 28 April 2022.

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Gabrielle Wang named new Australian Children’s Laureate

9 March 2022

Melbourne based writer Gabrielle Wang has been named the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2022 and 2023. Wang, the seventh person to be accorded the title, succeeds Ursula Dubosarsky who was in the role from 2020 to 2021. What exactly is a laureate, you ask? Good question. It’s a term we hear quite often, and not only in literary circles, but here’s a brief explanation.

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Loveland, by Robert Lukins, Melbourne book launch

8 March 2022
Loveland, by Robert Lukins, book cover

If you’re fast, you may still be able to score a (free) ticket to the launch of Melbourne based Australian writer Robert Lukins‘ second novel Loveland, tomorrow evening, Wednesday 9 March, at Readings Carlton, from 6:30PM.

Amid the ruins of a fire-ravaged amusement park and destroyed waterfront dwellings, one boarded-up building still stands. May has come from Australia to Loveland, Nebraska, to claim the house on the poisoned lake as part of her grandmother’s will. Escaping the control of her husband, will she find refuge or danger?

As she starts repairing the old house, May is drawn to discover more about her silent, emotionally distant grandmother and unravel the secrets that Casey had moved halfway around the world to keep hidden. How she and Casey’s lives interconnect, and the price they both must pay for their courage, is gradually revealed as this mesmerising and lyrical novel unfolds.

In an article in Good Weekend, published last Saturday, Lukins explains that seeing the bleak cover of the 1982 Bruce Springsteen album, Nebraska, as a ten-year old, partly inspired Loveland, which is set in the American state of the same name:

The cover of Nebraska, with that black-and-white photograph taken from the front seat of an old pick-up truck in deep winter. An empty highway is peeling away into an American horizon that was impossibly flat and infinitely distant. Snow is banked up on the truck’s hood and to me, a Sunshine Coast kid who lived permanently beneath fluoro board shorts and a stripe of zinc cream, this image was pure exoticism, pure mystery.

If this were Instagram, what would you call the filter on the cover of Loveland? Vintage? Retro? Whatever, I’ve added the novel to my to-be-read list.

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Naomi Parry Duncan wins Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship 2022

2 March 2022

Blue Mountains based Australian historian and writer Naomi Parry Duncan has been named winner of the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

The fellowship, which is awarded to Australian biography writers, commemorates late British born Australian writer and biographer Hazel Rowley, who died in 2011.

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The Bluffs by Kyle Perry optioned for TV series

23 February 2022

Hot on the heels of news that Australian author Liane Moriarty’s 2013 novel The Husband’s Secret will be made into a film directed by Kat Coiro, comes word Tasmanian novelist Kyle Perry’s 2020 debut book The Bluffs, has been optioned by Australian entertainment company First Option Pictures for a limited TV series.

What a great week for Australian fiction.

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Veronica Gorrie wins 2022 Victorian Prize for Literature

4 February 2022

Veronica Gorrie has been named winner of the 2022 Victorian Prize for Literature, for her 2021 book Black and Blue: A Memoir of Racism and Resilience, a memoir which recounts her childhood, and service as an Aboriginal officer with the police force in both her home state of Victoria, and Queensland.

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Words in Progress March 2022, hosted by Declan Fry

2 February 2022

Australian writer and poet Declan Fry hosts a panel discussion with Tara June Winch, Charmaine Papertalk Green, Claire G. Coleman, about their writing processes, on Sunday 20 March 2022, from 4:15PM until 5:15PM.

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ASA pre-budget submission hopes to boost investment in Australian literature

2 February 2022

It’s incredible to believe that Federal Government investment in Australian literature has declined by forty percent in the last ten years. It is something the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) hopes to redress in a pre-budget submission to the Australian Treasury. Direct grants to authors, and an increase in public lending rights scheme, are two key areas of interest to the ASA:

  • Direct authors’ grants: the development of a Commonwealth Fellowships and Grants program which includes a focus on First Nations storytelling, designed to fuel the talent pipeline and build the creative economy of the future.
  • A 20% increase to the Federal Government’s Lending Rights Budget to fund the expansion of the public lending rights (PLR) and educational lending rights (ELR) schemes to include digital formats (ebooks and audiobooks), which would modernise the schemes and reflect the reality of library holdings.

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Indie Book Awards 2022 shortlist announced

21 January 2022

The shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2022 has been announced. Winners in the four categories will be named on Monday 21 March 2022.

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2022 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Awards

19 January 2022

Nominations are open for the 2022 Australian Book Industry Awards ABIA Awards, until Monday 14 February 2022. With a wide range of award categories, it looks like publishers and authors will have little difficulty finding a slot for their work:

  • General Fiction Book of the Year
  • General Non-Fiction Book of the Year
  • Literary Fiction Book of the Year
  • Illustrated Book of the Year
  • Biography of the Year
  • Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)
  • Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12)
  • Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)
  • The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year
  • Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
  • Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year
  • International Book of the Year

The longlist will announced on Tuesday 22 March, the shortlist on Monday 23 May, with the winners named on Thursday 9 June 2022.

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2022 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist announced

17 January 2022

The shortlist for the 2022 Hazel Rowley Fellowship has been published. Created in memory of late British born Australian writer and biographer Hazel Rowley, the fellowship supports Australian writers of biographies. Authors submit ideas to the organisers, who select what they consider to be the best proposal. This year though, the field seems particularly tight:

We had an extremely strong field of applications this year, with a wide range of biographical subjects. This made the shortlisting hard,’ said Della Rowley, Hazel’s sister. ‘We received a large number of high-quality proposals. Perhaps as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, writers were busy thinking about good topics for biographies.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 2 March 2022.

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2022 black&write! Writing Fellowships

14 January 2022

Applications are open for the 2022 black&write! Writing Fellowships, an initiative to support the work of First Nations writers across Australia. Two fellowships are awarded annually, and are accompanied by a cash prize, assistance with developing a manuscript, and an opportunity to publish work with Hachette Australia. Applications close on Wednesday 2 February 2022.

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Prime Minister’s Summer Reading List 2021

10 December 2021

Australian public policy think tank the Grattan Institute has selected six books for the Australian Prime Minister to read over the upcoming summer break.

This year’s list covers a wide range of important issues including the disparity between private and public education systems; land use and the environment; grief, loss, and the female voice; poverty; sovereignty of the First Nations of Australia; and technology’s impact on our lives, our politics, and our values.

The only fiction offering on this year’s list is She Is Haunted, by Melbourne based author Paige Clark, a collection of short stories exploring themes including grief, heartbreak, and illness. Here’s hoping the Prime Minister takes the time to read these titles, and others, during the holiday break.

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The Indie Book Awards 2022 longlist

10 December 2021

Another place to source titles for your to-be-read list, the longlist of the
2022 Indie Book Awards
was unveiled earlier this week. The awards, which focus on Australian works, honour fiction, debut fiction, non-fiction, illustrated non-fiction, children’s, and young adult books.

Established in 2008, the Indie Book Awards celebrate the best Australian writing; and who better to nominate and judge the best-of-the-best than indie booksellers! What makes indie booksellers uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of the Australian reading public, by recommending beyond the big brands, and above all, their love of quality writing. The Awards recognise and celebrate indie booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors.

The shortlists for each category will be announced on 19 January 2022, while the winners will be named on 21 March 2022.

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Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2022 shortlist

7 December 2021

The shortlists for the 2022 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were announced yesterday. Prizes of twenty-five thousand dollars are awarded across six categories that include Indigenous writing, fiction, and poetry. A fifteen thousand dollar prize is also awarded for the best unpublished manuscript. It’s my guess anyone whose work is even shortlisted in the unpublished manuscript will not remain unpublished for long. The awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre, and the winners will be named on Thursday, 3 February 2022.

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State of the (Writing) Nation 2021

17 November 2021

Australian writer Alice Pung presented this year’s State of the (Writing) Nation oration, an initiative of Writers Victoria and the Wheeler Centre. Melbourne based writer Christos Tsiolkas, speaking before the oration, introduced Shu-Ling Chau, an emerging author also based in Melbourne. Pung’s address focussed on the production, promotion, and reception process of the writing process.

William Hazlitt wrote that ‘the smallest pain in our little finger causes us more concern than the destruction of our fellow human beings’. In her address, Pung will consider what kind of writing matters in the face of our small hurts and large griefs, and take an unflinching look at the excessive weight we place on literature to ameliorate our feelings. If you’re only half-grudgingly woke, is it better to just stay asleep? Pung will explore the pitfalls of this self-motivated obsession with using literature to educate, and examine whose expense it comes at.

Pung spoke about the experiences of disadvantaged writers in Australia, be they immigrants, refugees, disabled, indigenous, queer, or poor. This is essential listening for anyone with an interest in Australian literature.

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On quitting the day jobs to become a published author like Christian White

16 November 2021

Golf buggy driver. Call centre operator. Editor of porn videos. These were some of the jobs Australian thriller writer Christian White worked on the way to becoming a published author. If you want to succeed, and have the requisite determination to succeed, you will succeed, says White, in an interview with Melbourne based journalist Kylie Northover.

White, 40, has wanted to be a writer since he was a teenager, having an “iron-clad plan” to be a best-selling author by 25. “That shifted because 25 came and went, so I changed it to 30, which also came and went,” he says. “When I went past 30 and there was still no career in sight, I made the decision to just focus on writing for the love it – I really do just love the craft.”

And then there’s this nugget of wisdom:

He also realised he’d be better off writing the kinds of books he’d like to read. “Early on I was going to write deep, thoughtful novels – it wasn’t until I started writing thrillers I went oh! Because I love reading thrillers,” he says.

Write what you like reading. I think it’s something many aspiring authors overlook in the burning desire to become a published author. White’s third novel Wild Place was published last month.

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Andrew Pippos wins 2021 Readings Prize

9 November 2021

Sydney based Australian writer Andrew Pippos has been named winner of the 2021 Readings Prize for his debut novel Lucky’s. Congratulations.

As any book lover knows, walking into a bookshop and being confronted with hundreds (if not thousands) of books to choose from can be overwhelming. It is also one of the best feelings in the world. The Readings Prize shortlist is here to help narrow the field a little, to encourage readers to pick up a book by a first- or second-time author they don’t know and to give it a try.

The Readings is an award that focuses on newly published authors, a few more prizes like this are needed.

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Book of the Year Award 2021 shortlist announced

29 October 2021

The shortlist for the Small Press Network 2021 Book of the Year Award (BOTY) was unveiled on Monday, 25 October, 2021. Previously the award was known as the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award, but the name was changed in 2020. The Small Press Network represents small and independent publishers in Australia, and the winner of the 2021 BOTY will be announced in late November. Do check out the work of the shortlisted authors, these are titles I seldom see on Bookstagram.

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