‘More a hand grenade than a book’

Review by Rohan Wilson in The Australian‘s Review magazine Saturday November 9, 2019.

Chafing satire and explosive views

  • By ROHAN WILSON
Heather Rose – Bruny Island – photography Peter Mathew

For the most part, Australian literature in the 21st century is fairly toothless.

On a good day, our writers can muster up some anger at the appalling treatment of our First ­Nations people or for the equally appalling treatment the LGBTI community suffers.

But outside of these worthy causes it seems as if our writers enjoy a middle-class contentment that turns their gaze inward to domestic life, rather than outward to civic life.

Meanwhile, the world is going through an economic revolution. The billionaire class and their neoliberal political attack dogs have convinced us that competition is the defining characteristic of human ­relations.

Wealth inequality is causing epidemics of depression, suicide and obesity. Property ownership has become an impossible dream for whole swaths of the community. A handful of powerful corporations are busy ­destroying our climate. Are our best writers asleep to what’s going on around them? ­­Or worse, are they happy with the status quo?

Heather Rose is perhaps the last writer I would have expected to come out swinging. Her previous novel, The Museum of Modern Love, won a swag of awards for its depiction of performance artist Marina Abramovic and her piece, The Artist is Present. It was a quiet, contemplative novel about the way art can bring people together and give us hope.

Now we have Bruny, which is more like a hand grenade than a book, with its excoriating satire and explosive views on our political and economic trajectory. It’s the best evidence we have yet that Australian writers are finally waking up to the unfolding crisis.

It begins with an explosion on the newly built Bruny Island bridge in the south of Tasmania. The bridge is meant to connect Bruny to the mainland, making life easier for the locals and boosting tourism.

Bruny Book
Bruny launched October 2019

The explosion has the hallmarks of a terrorist plot and it quickly becomes a central issue in the looming state election. Enter ­Astrid Coleman. Astrid is called in by her brother, JC, the premier of Tasmania and Liberal Party strongman. He wants a speedy resolution and thinks Astrid, who is an ­expert in conflict resolution based in New York, can bring together the various factions fighting over Tasmania’s future. But as Astrid starts to dig, she soon learns that JC’s motives are more nefarious than she first ­assumed.

Rose takes an episodic approach to her story, with Astrid in the field gathering information from bridge workers, restaurant owners, greenies, and anyone who might have reason to blow up the bridge.

A picture of contemporary Tasmania begins to emerge. We see how the politics of austerity have impoverished the community, we see how privatisation has given more and more power to unaccountable private tyrannies, and see, perhaps most frightening of all, that China has moved in to take advantage of Tasmania’s clean, green potential.

Astrid is not without her own problems, too. We learn that her parents’ marriage wasn’t as happy as it seemed and that it has left her with some anxieties to work through. Her own marriage fell apart after her husband revealed himself as a ­misogynist.

While she is world weary and somewhat cynical about her brother’s agenda, she maintains an optimistic outlook and a deep love for the island of her childhood. But her optimism is seriously challenged by the conspiracy she uncovers as the facts behind the destruction of the Bruny Island bridge come to light.

This is where the satire in the novel really starts to bite. The Chinese Communist Party views Tasmania as yet another Third World location where it might win some influence through investment in infrastructure. It ­insists that Chinese workers be shipped in to complete the repairs to the bridge and the Liberal government enthusiastically agrees.

Astrid starts to think that the bomb plot may have been staged in order to win support for a change in local employment laws to allow foreign workers to be shipped in wholesale. In fact, the truth is much, much worse.

As I read on and the scale of the conspiracy became clear, I had to put the book aside because I was laughing so hard.

This is audacious writing. It exposes the lies at the heart of neoliberal economics more clearly than any book in recent memory, and it does so with a vicious sense of irony.

And there’s something here for everyone. Whether it’s Astrid’s rule-breaking romantic interest in Dan, the manager of the bridge workers, or the family drama between Astrid and JC, or the political commentary and piss-taking, there are moments on every page that keep narrative tension bubbling away.

I certainly expect to see this book feature in major prize shortlists over the next 12 months. It’s the wake-up call we needed.

Bruny

By Heather Rose. Allen & Unwin, 424pp, $32.99

Rohan Wilson‘s most recent novel is Daughter of Bad Times.

From Heather: Rohan’s wonderful novel The Daughter of Bad Times shares many of the same concerns as Bruny – but is set in 2074 … do go seek it out!

Heather Rose crosses the political span – by Stephen Romei

Heather Rose – Bruny Island 07/06/2019 Hobart Tasmania photography Peter Mathew

A profile by Stephen Romei at The Australian

LITERARY EDITOR

@PairRaggedClaws

  • 1:00AM OCTOBER 3, 2019

You are a UN conflict resolution expert based in New York. Your brother is the Tasmanian premier. Your sister is the Tasmanian opposition leader. Your mother has cancer and your father is sliding into dementia and speaks only in Shakespearean quotes.

Someone blows up part of an almost-completed $2bn bridge joining Tasmania to its offshoot Bruny Island. You, dispatched to the scene, spot a bloke who looks as if he’d know how to handle explosives, but on the plus side he resembles Chris Hemsworth.

Welcome to the weird, wonderful, sad, nervous, bold and hilarious interconnected world of 56-year-old Astrid Coleman, the lead character in Heather Rose’s new novel Bruny, named after the 362sq km island at its centre, permanent population about 600.

“The whole book was the most amazing amount of fun I’ve ever had writing in my life,” the author says. “I laughed and laughed.”

Rose’s family has lived in Tasmania for six generations and Bruny Island, accessible only by boat, has been important to her throughout her life. It was a place of fun and games for Rose as a kid and it has been a place of peace and quiet for her as a writer. A lot of that laughing during the writing of the novel, which is part thriller, part political satire, part romance, was due to Astrid’s formidable presence in Rose’s life.

Some writers treat their characters as galley slaves. They tell them when to row, where to go and when to stop. Others live with their characters, have conversations with them, are guided by them. Rose is in the latter camp. “Yes, my children think that is strange,” she admits.

Astrid, better known as Ace because as a child she cheated at cards, even came to her in a dream and suggested — perhaps demanded is a better word — an important development in the plot.

“That night she wiped me out with something so shocking it left me sitting up in bed,” Rose says.

Rose used to argue with her characters and sometimes try to say no to them, but she has stopped doing that now and is more comfortable with the relationship as a result.

“I think that’s the trick, isn’t it? I’m so grateful that Astrid only came at this point (Bruny is Rose’s fifth novel for adults). I might have tried to push her around if she’d come earlier, but this time I just let her have her head, and I was shocked by her so many times.

“She’s quite an outrageous character and she says things about life, men, politics, ideology, everything, really, and I would type it all out, look at it and think, ‘I can’t say that. That’s terrible. And then I’d think, ‘Oh, well, Astrid said it.’ ”

Here’s a good example, when Astrid, who has two grown children, is thinking back on her failed marriage: “Everyone should have to get divorced from the person they’re married to, just to see who that person really is.”

Bruny is Rose’s first novel since The Museum of Modern Love, centred on Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, which won the 2016 Stella prize. It is also the first one she has been able to write full time, thanks to the Stella cheque and an Australia Council grant. Rose, 55, dabbled in modelling and acting when she was young but has earned her living as an advertising copywriter, then as co-founder of an award-winning advertising firm, Coo’ee Tasmania. She has three grown children.

“The Museum of Modern Love took me 11 years. It was a very long process. I wrote four other novels in the meantime, and it was a tedious novel in so many ways. Sorry.

“There was a gruesomeness to writing it. It was arduous. It took everything, that novel. And then, it had all the success, which was such a surprise. Then on the back of that, the Australia Council, for the first time after 10 applications over 23 years, gave me a grant to work on this novel.

“I had already been coming up with a few thoughts about it and writing scenes and all of that. But there was something so brilliant about being able to knuckle down with this idea that the Australia Council had funded me to write a political satire about Australian government.”

After that explosive set-up, Bruny unfolds as a power and passion drama about family, loyalty, home, place, politics, foreign investment and love. It is in part a love letter to the author’s home state.

Yet Tasmania is a familiar but estranged place for Astrid, who has lived most of her adult life in New York. She returns to help her twin brother, John, the Liberal premier, known in the family as JC, a man who can walk on water, who is set to go to the polls in four months. He has asked her to bring together the opposing sides in the bridge debate, the established Tasmanians and the greenies versus the newcomers, the developers and the Chinese investors, so the bridge can be fixed and opened before the election.

The opposition leader, Maxine, is their older sister. She is the one who has continued the family tradition as she is the Labor leader. Their father, Angus, was a state Labor MP for decades. JC switched sides.

“If this book is a love story, it is a love story for my fellow Tasmanians,” Rose says. “There’s no way I could do justice to this community without talking about the spectacular visual beauty we live in every day and how much that colours our life.

“But I also can’t help but observe Tasmania and what we’re seeing in terms of visitor numbers and consider what that means in the next five years, in the next 10 years, in the next 20 years.

“And when I was writing the book, I was immersed in current affairs, to everything that was coming out of the US, the UK and here in Australia. I do think it’s important we have better conversations about our national security planning, about our long-term economic planning … and about what on earth are we doing about protecting ourselves from the climate emergency.

“Clearly we do not have leadership on any of those fronts. One of the things that I enjoyed doing was looking into the nature of democracy.”

The novel is set in the near future, which turns it into a delightful guessing game for readers. Who is the prime minister? (Hint: I think it’s a comeback.) Who is the king of England? Who is the American president? Who is the bestselling writer-public intellectual greenie camped on Bruny Island? (Hint: I don’t think it’s Richard Flanagan.)

I’m not going to spoil the fun for readers, so I’ll leave the possible name out in this example. When I say to Rose that the federal minister for natural protection Aiden Abbott, better known as Aid-n-Abet, is obviously … she laughs and nods. A friend of Rose sitting with us chips in. “You’ve been very naughty,” she tells the author, who laughs some more.

As well as the name game, other tantalising questions linger from the outset. Who blew up the bridge? Why? Is it an act of terrorism? Is the brother-sister political opposition just a front that allows one family — Coleman Inc — to control the state? Does China have Australia’s interests at heart or are we just part of its “chequebook colonialism”?

And is Astrid working for someone else other than the Premier? Early on she notes “I have to hide the truth, that’s always been my speciality”, and wonders: ‘‘Would I ever kill for an ideal?” A reader’s impression of what that ideal may be will shift as the novel goes on.

The Shakespearean quotes from Angus are not just there for fun. This novel has Shakespearean undertones. Readers will think of Lear, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest and especially Hamlet, where one can “smile, and smile, and be a villain”. No one is exactly who they seem to be.

“It’s beautiful as a writer to be part of a lineage,” Rose says. “I think as a writer it’s very hard to ignore the influence of great writing, especially what’s been given to us in the dramatic realm. And of course Shakespeare is so political.”

The political intrigue at the centre of this novel is the result of a lot of research. Rose spoke to friends and contacts who worked in, or had connections to, political parties, security agencies, government authorities and the UN.

She was particularly nervous about the scenes where the bridge is blown up, worried that readers in the know would tell her she didn’t understand the nuts and bolts of it.

So she made contact with explosives experts, people similar to her fictional former paratrooper now bridge foreman who looks like Hemsworth.

“They did come back to me,” she says, “and were willing to advise me, but on one provision. They said: ‘This is for a work of fiction, right?’ ”

Bruny, by Heather Rose, is published by Allen & Unwin (424pp, $32.99).

STEPHEN ROMEI

https://media.theaustralian.com.au/authors/images/bio/stephen_romei.png

LITERARY EDITOR Stephen Romei is The Australian’s literary editor. He blogs at A Pair of Ragged Claws and can also be found on Twitter and Facebook. @PairRaggedClaws

Tasmania – creative paradise


 

Apple Isle
Apple Isle

 

So this is edition #151 of Island Magazine!

Managing Editor Vern Field thought it was time to concentrate on the wealth of Tasmanian writing talent – and came up with the apple idea. So together with the wonderful Island General Manager Kate Harrison and photographer Jack Robert-Tissot we trucked off to the apple orchards of the Huon to Willie Smith’s great venue. The brilliant Sophia Pafitis helped me look glamorous, and Jack did the rest. There was also some brilliant post-production work done by Malcolm Proctor. (Thank you Mal!).

But it’s what’s within the pages of this edition that surpasses the cover entirely! So many great words, ideas and writers – James Dryburgh, Melanie Tait, Carmel Bird and many more – and there’s also the transcript of the conversation the gorgeous Benjamin Law and I had in Hobart following the Stella Prize.

If you’re not a subscriber, it’s time you were! And at the very least, run out and get a copy and support Tasmania’s brilliant literary journal and all it’s writers and creators.

 

 

Me and William Faulkner


A lot of unexpected things have happened this year. It’s a beautiful, brilliant year in the face of some great personal hardship. It’s strange the way life does both, but it seems to be the way it is. I am immensely grateful for it all! I am delighted to find my work reaching a wider world of readers, and I am deeply touched by the acknowledgement for so many years of hard work.

Along the way, there have been quite a few interviews, reviews and articles. This article by Jane Sullivan, published in the Age and the SMH, utterly surprised me (and totally delighted my Dad who has patiently waited to see if my books would ever be ‘discovered’ by people further afield.)

The first William Faulkner novel I read was As I Lay Dying. I must have been about 21. From there I read every novel of Faulkner’s, settling at last on Light in August as my favourite – and one of my top five favourite novels of my lifetime. I think it comes as close as any novel to being a perfect novel in form, characterisation, in tone and in the spectacular craft of good writing. So to find my words compared to Faulkner’s made my father cry, and me reflect on the wonder of life.

We never know how our creativity will touch other lives. For me that is a mysterious gift and a privilege that may yet keep me writing all my days.

It’s not easy to let the recognition in. But given everything that has unfolded, I wanted to acknowledge this very special observation by Jane Sullivan.

Here is the link to the article – and the complete text is below should the link fade.

“What a winning acceptance speech Heather Rose gave for the 2017 Stella Prize. She charmed everyone in the room: she was humble, honest and a little bit steely. To survive as a writer you need steel.

She liked to think of her winning novel, The Museum of Modern Love, as an overnight success. In fact it took 46 years from the moment her father told her a terrible thing when she was six years old.

She’d read him her poem about a rabbit, and he said, “You’re going to be a great writer.” For years she was devastated by the huge gulf that existed between her own writing and that of the great writers.

There was progress. Two failed novels; a first published novel (she remembers only the one unkind review); a second novel that once delivered her a royalty cheque for 57 cents in a 60-cent envelope; a third novel with ardent fans, but very few readers; a series of stories for children, written with Danielle Wood.

The Museum of Modern Love took 11 years to write, was rejected by Australian and US publishers, and finally found a home with Allen & Unwin.  Somewhere along the line Rose accepted she would never be a great writer. But she wants nothing more than to continue to write.

This is literary success in Australia. But what about in the world. Something prompted me to compare Rose’s words with the indisputably great writers’ award acceptance orations of the past, so i went to the Nobel Prize website and had a look. You know what? I preferred Rose’s speech. It seemed to resonate more.

The Nobel prizewinners whose speeches I found were all men. They usually began with a dutiful nod to humility, and some of them kept up that note. But others became Godlike. They made stirring calls to the writers of the future (who they assumed were men) and told them what they should be writing about. I began to think that if their dads had ever told them they’d be great writers, they’d just take that as their due.

Of course I found rhetoric and grand pronouncements about literature that are still frequently quoted.  Faulkner thought the writer must write about nothing but “the old verities and truths of the heart … love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice”. Hemingway thought the writer must always try “for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed”. Steinbeck believed that “a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature”.

These writers were speaking on a world stage, at a time when the world seemed a dark place at risk of nuclear annihilation. It’s still dark, though perhaps a different kind of darkness. Rose was speaking on a small stage, to an Australian audience, mostly women, after winning a prize for women. Inevitably it’s a speech about smaller, personal things.

Or is it? “Being a successful woman is not an easy path,” Rose said – especially in Australia, and she cited the case of Julia Gillard. And then she, too, rose to the challenge of defining the task of the writer: “to tell our stories. To reflect the human experience. To find what is common and what is uncommon. To explore the past, be with the present, to imagine the future … And if we do not foster our creativity when we hear it calling – whether in our children or as adults – then the world is poorer for it.”

None of those great men mentioned children.”

Janesullivan.sullivan9@gmail.com

 

 

The Christina Stead Prize 2017!

“I cannot express how wonderful it is to bring such an award home to Tasmania.”

Writing is a long game. Or at least it has been in my case. To those who have read my Stella Prize speech, you’ll know I’ve been writing since I was a very small child. Since before I even had words but simply knew I wanted to put pen to paper and express things. And this year, 2017, Year of Writing Miracles, has somehow emerged as a year where all that hard work has come to fruition. On May 23rd, as part of the New South Wales Premier’s Prizes, The Museum of Modern Love won the Christina Stead Prize for fiction.

The Christina Stead prize commemorates the brilliant Australian author Christina Stead. It has previously been won by the most incredible list of authors – and I am humbled and awed by finding my book among them. They include Helen Garner, Elizabeth Jolley, Beverley Farmer, Kate Grenville, Alex Miller, Robert Drewe,  J.M.Coetzee, Joan London, Merlinda Bobis, Carrie Tiffany, Michelle De Kretser, Thea Astley,  Tim Winton, David Malouf, Peter Carey …

Most excitingly, it has only once before been won by a Tasmaniam. That was back in 1989 for Helen Hodgman’s novel Broken Words. Helen was actually born in England and only spent a few teenage years in Tasmania, so this is the first time it’s gone to a born and bred Tasmanian. I’m particularly proud of that for all my fellow Tasmanian writers and the rich reading community that has so generously supported my writing over the past 20 years.

I cannot express how wonderful it is to bring such an award home to Tasmania. I hope this inspires many other writers not only in Tasmania but in all the remote parts of Australia, who often work with a sense of increased isolation from the literary centres of Melbourne and Sydney, and all writers who work long and hard at their craft in the hope of a breakthrough moment in their careers, that sometimes  – sometimes – it happens. I do hope it happens for you.

Here’s a little background from the State Library of NSW  about the award and the judges comments on The Museum of Modern Love.

About Christina Stead

The award commemorates Christina Ellen Stead (1902-1983), Australian novelist and short-story writer. Stead was born in Rockdale, New South Wales. She published fifteen novels beginning with The Salzburg Tales and Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934). Her most well-known novel The Man Who Loved Children (1940) was based on her childhood in Sydney. Stead lived most of her life overseas, in Europe and the U.S., but retained a strong sense of national identity, reviewing Australian novels for the New York Times Book Review and keeping up with news from Australia through family correspondence. Her work, including several volumes of short stories, is acclaimed for her satirical wit. Stead’s literary popularity in Australia increased significantly after her return in 1974. The same year she received the inaugural Patrick White Literary Award to recognise her lifetime achievement.

Judges’ Comments

In a now semi-famous aphorism, mid-century French philosopher Simone Weil called attention ‘the rarest and purest form of generosity’, and more than the spirit of that observation inhabits Heather Rose’s deeply striking seventh novel. Initially centred on Arky, a composer for film, The Museum of Modern Love deftly orchestrates a range of characters including the US-Serbian artist Marina Abramović. In Abramović’s 2010 work The Artist Is Present, people were invited to sit silently in a chair directly across from her in order to share each other’s gaze. This is pivotal for a novel deeply concerned with the expansiveness of attention and the limits of responsibility.

The narrator’s voice gives the novel a quiet power, as if the universe was filled with a non-meddling benevolence. There’s a cinematic quality too, with even minor figures sketched in with sure and affecting touches. The Museum of Modern Love is alive with the surprise and challenge of presence in many of its forms — it is a very generous book indeed.

Images and storytelling have been intertwined since the first human beings gathered by a painted wall to tell tales in the firelight. Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love works with these ancient ghosts with exquisite care and intelligence. Positing grief and art as deep echoes that corroborate the transitory nature of our lives, Rose brings the reader to a place of acceptance despite the inevitable darkness. With rare subtlety and humanity, this novel relocates the difficult path to wonder in us all.

 

This lovely picture is NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian handing me the prize. I love the delight in both of us!

Christina Stead Prize - Gladys Berejiklian NSW Premier

Stella Shortlist 2017 & The Museum of Modern Love


The Stella Prize was established in 2011 when a group of bold, brave women took the step of acknowledging that Australian women writers were being under-represented in the books reviewed and the prizes that were awarded. For example, in 2011, 70% of books reviewed in the Weekend Australian newspaper were written by men. And the ultimate literary prize in Australia, the Miles Franklin – the legacy prize of one of Australia’s great writers (and a woman) – had only been won by a female author 10 times in the 54 years it had been awarded. So the Stella Prize was born.

It’s hard to express how meaningful it can be to have the books we write acknowledged by a wider circle of people. Publishing is not a world awash with funds to promote books. For literary writers, the most we can usually hope for is a good review in a major newspaper. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the support of enthusiastic distributors and bookshop staff can promote a book, or a lucky invitation to a writer’s festival. Sometimes there are rare moments that see our works transformed into films or plays or video games. Almost as rare is the sale of our work into foreign countries. Invitations to festivals are not easy to come by. I have attended one major festival. It was with my first novel – White Heart – at Sydney Writer’s Festival. That was in 1999. Festival budgets do not stretch to flights and accommodation for largely unknown authors from far flung regions of Australia. And there’s the catch. Without publicity we cannot achieve sales. Without sales we cannot forward our careers.

British publishers do not generally pick up novels already printed in Australia. US publishers are just as tough. And even when we are picked up, there are rarely any royalties that flow beyond the initial (and sometimes quite modest) advance. The average advance in Australia for a novel is $5000.

Prize money is a gift of time. Prize money is so rare! Any money for writing is rare! And every prize has different eligibility criteria. Because The Museum of Modern love is set in New York, with no reference to Australia at all, it is ineligible for the Miles Franklin which is only for books that ‘present Australian life in any of its phases.’

Writing is hard work. It requires enormous focus and stillness. It requires creating an almost meditative space where we can convey the story that is urgently trying to flow through us. That urgency can obliterate all other thoughts. It is devastated by interruption. It is dissuaded by a failure in the writer to just sit down and do the work.

Writing takes time. Because it is very rare for Australian writers to earn any substantial income from their work (currently the average income for Australian writers is $13,000 pa) we must then do our work around other work. Writing a novels usually takes years. That’s years where writers have to choose writing before the other demands of life. In my experience what gives is socialising, movie-going, tv watching, gardening, cooking, renovating, reading, sleep and any other number of ways we humans spend our time.

So it’s something of a miracle when, after many years of work, a book with it’s own special life beyond the clandestine world of the author’s mind and the author’s computer, finds its way onto a major prize shortlist. And the Stella shortlist is a huge boon. It will have a significant impact on the number of readers who discover a book. It gives the book a profile that opens up the possibility of sales into other countries and other mediums. For a little while we ride on a bubble of acknowledgement. And it’s precarious. Like a flower in bloom. We know there are other days ahead, other cycles to come. So it’s important to celebrate.

I think for most of us writers, it’s always a surprise to receive widespread acknowledgment for our creative efforts. This fragile idea that came to visit, that was gathered up and written down and worried over for months and years and became a novel or a work of non-fiction or a prose or poetry collection, is the result of a kind of fight against all the odds. If the book gets published that is the first miracle. If it attracts a shortlisting for a major prize that is another miracle. There are so many good writers and good books.

So thank you Stella judges for whittling down your longlist to a Stella shortlist 2017 that includes The Museum of Modern Love. I am enormously and profoundly grateful.

Stella shortlist 2017
Stella shortlist 2017

Australian Literary Society Medal longlist 2017


‘The Museum of Modern Love’ has been included on this extraordinary longlist of Australian literature. Thank you Association for the Study of Australian Literature! The Medal has a distinguished history and previous winners include Michelle de Krester, Gillian Mears, David Malouf and Christos Tsiolkas.

The ALS Gold Medal is presented annually by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) for a ‘work of outstanding literary merit’ published in the previous calendar year. Last year’s winner was Brenda Niall’s Mannix (Text).

  • 2017 Long list announced for the ALS Gold Medal

    Adam Aitken One Hundred Letters Home (Vagabond)

    Steven Amsterdam The Easy Way Out (Hachette)

    Georgia Blain Between a Wolf and a Dog (Scribe)

    Peter Boyle, Ghostspeaking (Vagabond)

    Michelle Cahill Letters to Pessoa (Giramondo)

    Tina Giannoukous Bull Days (Arcadia)

    Dennis Haskell Ahead of Us (Fremantle)

    Fiona McFarlane The High Places (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton)

    Zoe Morrison Music and Freedom (Vintage)

    Sean Rabin Wood Green (Giramondo)

    Heather Rose The Museum of Modern Love (Allen & Unwin)

    Rajith Savandasa, Ruins (Hachette)

 

Australian Literary Society medal

The ALS Gold Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year. The Medal was inaugurated by the Australian literary Society, which was founded in Melbourne in 1899 and incorporated into the Association for the Study of Australian Literature(ASAL) in 1982.

The medal was originally awarded for the best novel published in the previous year but, since 1937, other literary forms have been eligible for consideration. The medal has sometimes been called the Crouch Gold Medal after its principal benefactor, Colonel R.A. Crouch

No nominations are required, though ASAL members are invited to propose potential winners to the judging panel.

 

 

The Stella Prize 2017


So the most remarkable thing happened. The Museum of Modern Love has been longlisted for the 2017 Stella Prize – the stellar award for women writers in Australia. This year the judges have focussed their attention on non-fiction and 9 formidable works of memoir, biography, history, social narrative and journalism have been longlisted. Plus three novels (one being The Museum of Modern Love) and one short story collection.

I’m not sure if all the other women on that list are feeling suitably in awe of their compatriots but I sure am. Honoured. And a bit stunned. But super happy. Thank you Stella judges.

The shortlist is announced March 9th and the Stella Award for 2017 will be announced in Melbourne on April 18th. Time to get some serious and exciting reading done.

The Museum of Modern Love
The Museum of Modern LoveTim

5 favourite works of art – on RN Books & Arts Top Shelf


Michael Cathcart and Radio National’s Books & Arts have a lovely section called Top Shelf. In this 10 minute edition I’ve shared a few cherished memories across art, film, music, novels and a Mary Oliver poem  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/top-shelf:-heather-rose/8075752