The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
Just a quick note to let you know that the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists were announced in Melbourne this morning. The full shortlists are below, but before I get to them I’d make a few very quick observations.
First of all it’s worth noting that this is the first time awards have been offered for Children’s and Young Adult Fiction, and while I’m in no position to make judgements about the books included on those lists I’m pleased to see my old pal from Uni days (and one of the world’s nicest human beings) Andrew Joyner turn up in the children’s list for he and Ursula Dubosarsky’s The Terrible Plop (a book whose title still makes me smile every time I read it).
Then there are the notable omissions. I’m sure others will know their way round the other shortlists better than me, but on the Fiction shortlist, it’s interesting to note the judges have omitted both Peter Temple’s Truth, which won the Miles Franklin Award only a couple of weeks ago, and Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America.
On the flipside it’s interesting to see Deborah Forster’s The Book of Emmett has made this shortlist as well as the Miles Franklin shortlist, which is a pretty serious achievement for a first novel (and one which, to my shame, I still haven’t read).
It’s also refreshing to note how outward looking the Fiction shortlist is: whatever else you can say about the Miles there’s little doubt the “phase of Australian life” term drives an insularity that certainly isn’t evident in this list, which includes books set in Troy, South Africa, France and Moscow.
And finally, I’m delighted to see Coetzee’s Summertime has been included on the Fiction shortlist: neither its author nor his writing are easily accommodated within the national or literary conventions that underpin most Australian literary awards, but if there was a funnier, more intelligent or more audacious book published in Australia in recent years I don’t know what it is.
Anyway, the shortlists are:
J. M. Coetzee, Summertime
Deborah Forster, The Book of Emmett
Alan Gould, The Lakewoman
Eva Hornung, Dog Boy
David Malouf, Ransom
Alex Miller, Lovesong
Alison Wong, As the Earth turns Silver
Michael Cathcart, The Water Dreamers: The Remarkable History of Our Dry Continent
Will Elliott, Strange Places: A Memoir of Mental Illness
Grace Karskens, The Colony: A History of Early Sydney
John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy
Mark Tredinnick, The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir
Shirley Walker, The Ghost at the Wedding
Young adult fiction
Lucy Christopher, Stolen
Judith Clarke, The Winds of Heaven
Bill Condon, Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God
Cassandra Golds, The Museum of Mary Child
Phillip Gwynne, Swerve
David Metzenthen, Jarvis 24
Gabrielle Williams, Beatle meets Destiny
Kate Constable, Cicada Summer
Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner (illustrator), The Terrible Plop
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (illustrator), Just Macbeth
Leigh Hobbs, Mr Chicken goes to Paris
Alison Lester, Running with the Horses
Lorraine Marwood, Star Jumps
Martine Murray and Sally Rippin (illustrator), Mannie and the Long Brave Day
Jen Storer, Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children
Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood (illustrator), Harry and Hopper
More information, including Judges’ comments, is available on the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards website.