Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 Melbourne Prize for Literature

Poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe has won the 2015 Melbourne Prize for Literature, presented every three years to a Victorian author ‘whose body of published or produced work has made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature, as well as to cultural and intellectual life’.

Wallace-Crabbe was presented with the $60,000 award at a ceremony at Federation Square in Melbourne on 12 November. Wallace-Crabbe was one of five authors shortlisted for the award, along with Steven Carroll, Brenda Niall, Christos Tsiolkas and Alexis Wright.

In a statement, judges said Wallace-Crabbe ‘continues an imposing and significant influence on Australian literature, in the genre of poetry’. ‘He has established himself among the vanguard of international poetry giants and made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature and cultural and intellectual life,’ said the judges, adding he has also ‘devoted his career to teaching mentoring and supporting new generations of writers’.

Andrea Goldsmith was awarded the $30,000 Best Writing Award, presented for ‘a piece of published or produced work of outstanding clarity, originality and creativity by a Victorian writer’ for her novel The Memory Trap. Goldsmith’s novel was chosen from a shortlist of 10 books published in the past three years. Each of the finalists are eligible for the $6000 Civic Choice Award, which was voted on by members of the public.

The $20,000 Writers Prize, a one-off prize presented to an essay of between 10,000 and 20,000 words that includes Melbourne, Victoria or Australia as part of its subjects, went to Kate Ryan for ‘Psychotherapy for Normal People’. Ryan was also awarded a residency at the University of Melbourne’s School of Culture and Communication.

This is the fourth time the Melbourne Prize for Literature has been presented, with the prize alternating between prizes for urban sculpture, music and literature in a three-year cycle. Past winners of the prize include Helen Garner (2006), Gerald Murnane (2009) and Alex Miller (2012). 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We Win!

The publication Boroondara Remembers: Stories of WWI was the winner of the Local History - Small Publication Award at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s 2015 Community History Awards.

The award was presented to City of Boroondara, along with authors Fiona Poulton and Katherine Sheedy on Monday 19 October 2015.

The book was commissioned as part of the Gallipoli and Beyond Program to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing during World War I. Council contributed $50K to the development of the publication and received a $10K grant from State Government.

To add to the excitement of the announcements, the Gallipoli and Beyond Program was also shortlisted in the Centenary of WWI Award category. This event program was the result of collaboration between the Gallipoli and Beyond Inc Committee and Council.

A total of 205 nominations were received across eight categories and for Boroondara to feature in two categories was a tremendous achievement, particularly for a first time entrant.

Not only was the program collaboration between Council and a community group, but it also involved collaboration between the Arts and Culture and Library Services departments. The publication and delivered program were well regarded by all participants and this award and nomination are a testament to the quality of the comprehensive Gallipoli and Beyond Program.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Man Booker Prize 2015

And the winner is.........

 A brief history of seven killings 
by Marlon James.

From the official announcement.

Marlon James, now resident in Minneapolis, is the first Jamaican author to win the prize in its 47-year history. 

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a 686-page epic with over 75 characters and voices. Set in Kingston, where James was born, the book is a fictional history of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976. Of the book, the New York Times said: ‘It’s like a Tarantino remake of “The Harder They Come”, but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner...epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.'

Referring to Bob Marley only as ‘The Singer’ throughout, A Brief History of Seven Killings retells this near mythic assassination attempt through the myriad voices – from witnesses and FBI and CIA agents to killers, ghosts, beauty queens and Keith Richards’ drug dealer – to create a rich, polyphonic study of violence, politics and the musical legacy of Kingston of the 1970s. James has credited Charles Dickens as one of his formative influences, saying ‘I still consider myself a Dickensian in as much as there are aspects of storytelling I still believe in—plot, surprise, cliffhangers’ (Interview Magazine).

Michael Wood, Chair of the judges, comments:

‘This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami.

‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

In addition to his £50,000 prize and trophy, James also receives a designer bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being shortlisted.

On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author can expect international recognition, not to mention a dramatic increase in book sales. Last year’s winning novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, has sold 300,000 copies in the UK and almost 800,000 worldwide. Hardback sales of The Narrow Road to the Deep North in the week following his win eclipsed his combined BookScan sales for the previous decade. Flanagan described the experience as ‘the most extraordinary honour… you are fully aware that you are no longer standing in the same place you had been previously as a writer.’  

This is the second year that the prize, first awarded in 1969, has been open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Michael Robotham beats Stephen King (& J.K. Rowling) for the Gold Dagger

Congratulations to Michael Robotham who has won the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger for his novel Life or Death.

The Gold Dagger is presented every year by the British Crime Writers Association (CWA). It is awarded to the best crime novel of the year. It was first awarded in 1955 as the Crossed Red Herrings Reward. In 1960 it was renamed the Gold Dagger. 

Robotham is the second Australian author to win the award. The first was Peter Temple in 2007 (for The broken shore)

"Upon winning the Gold Dagger Robotham said, “I am honoured, humbled and over the bloody moon to win the Gold Dagger. This is partly to do with the illustrious shortlist, which contains some giants in the crime genre, but also because I won for a book that I truly believe is the best that I’ve written. A really cool author would tell you that literary prizes don’t mean very much – they’re like baby pageants where everybody thinks their little darling should win - but I’m not very cool. Tonight I may be sleeping with a dagger under my pillow.”"

Monday, September 14, 2015

Margaret Olley Art Centre

The Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC) at the Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah is a remarkable space.

MOAC celebrates the career, life and legacy of its namesake, Margaret Olley, AC (24 June 1923 – 26 July 2011) – Australia’s most celebrated painter of still life and interiors.

Apart from beautiful paintings by Olley, there are audio-visual stations that give a terrific context to her life and work.  Text, visuals and interviews provide a great deal of information about this extraordinary woman, one of our most well-loved painters.

Perhaps the most captivating representation is at the heart of the space.  Rooms from the home of the artist were photographed and catalogued, deconstructed, moved from Sydney and reconstructed within the gallery itself.  The windows and doors are the actual ones from her house.   You can gaze in from vantage points and see the rooms as they existed.  It is a very special experience.

From the gallery booklet:  “She loved to paint and collect things.  She is well known for her paintings of interiors and still life. She never had a separate studio, but painted inside her home and in her friends’ homes…  She collected books, ornaments, sculptures from other countries and sometimes funny bits and pieces.  She didn’t like throwing things away in case she needed them again or wanted to paint them.”  

The rooms are a treasure-trove of furniture, dried flowers, glassware, artworks, paint and paint brushes … every nook and cranny crammed with domestic things and the unusual, obviously the result of a massive accumulation over the years. (Minimalists and de-clutterers would have palpitations at the sight!)

Don’t forget to put a visit to the Tweed Regional Gallery on your list of things to do if you are visiting northern New South Wales.  Sit on the balcony and enjoy one of the most glorious settings of any regional gallery.  Then enjoy wandering through the marvellous exhibitions and the very special Margaret Olley collection.

Boroondara Library Service has an extensive range of art books. Have a look at some of the books in the library about this amazing artist, including:


Margaret Olley  by Christine France.

Margaret Olley by Barry Pearce.


Written by Carol.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Melbourne Writer’s Festival 20-30 August 2015

Saturday 22 August

A romantic career

Romance novelists Anne Gracie {Aus} and Mary Jo Putney {US} joined Kate Cuthbert {Managing Editor Escape Publishing} to talk about the romance genre and their successful careers writing romance fiction. It was clear from the start that the audience was full of romance readers and fans of Gracie and Putney, more so than many of the other sessions I’ve been to over the years where you get the feeling people may have taken potluck on a session thinking it may or may not be interesting. These people seemed to know many of the books the authors were referring to and when certain ones were mentioned there were appreciative murmurs indicating a much loved favourite.  But it wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy fan-fest.  For aspiring writers, Gracie and Putney had many tips, one which sticks in my mind was Gracie’s quote {attributed to both Wilkie Collins nad Oscar Wilde} advising writers to make them {the readers} laugh, make them cry and make them wait. All three of the panelists agreed that visibility is one of the greatest challenges facing writers who want commercial success and that the advent of the ebook has brought about many opportunities for creative expansion. Gracie and Putney agreed that for a romance book to work it must be a great story well told and it must show the power of love over any adversity. Anne Gracie's latest book is The spring bride. Mary Jo Putney's latest book is Not always a saint.

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Greg Sheridan Inside story

Greg was in conversation with Patricia Karvelas, host of Radio National’s Drive. Sheridan has recently published a memoir When we were young and foolish which looks at his formative years and the many friendships he made with now prominent politicians. He is close friends with Tony Abbot after meeting him at university where he also met Peter Costello and Michael Danby. When he worked at the Bulletin he became close to Bob Carr and Malcolm Turnbull amongst others and once he left the Bulletin to become a columnist at the Australian newspaper he was posted to China and worked with Kevin Rudd. His reply to the question of why he wrote this book was that he wanted to capture a time and a place {and in particular the threat of Communism faced at this time}; explain how he reached his view of the world and to tell a few jokes.
Image result for greg sheridan mwfThis was a fascinating session, Sheridan is an articulate speaker with a warm and engaging manner and his personal views of some of the most powerful men in Australia made for very interesting listening.

Mark Latham  Politicians as journalists

Everyone has probably heard about this session on the Saturday evening news. The first few minutes were fine with Jonathan Green introducing Mark Latham as an economics graduate; a career politican and leader of the Australian Labor Party  from 2003 -2005, a protégé of Gough Whitlam and until last week a columnist with the Australian Financial Review. Latham was then asked if he is behind the twitter account @RealMarkLatham which has been cited as making derogatory and abusive remarks about women. Latham declined to answer this question and then became abusive towards Green saying he would not answer any of his questions but would only answer questions from the audience in a show of “true democracy”. The only problem with this was he didn’t really answer any of the audience questions either. It was an extremely hostile session with Latham claiming Green was exhibiting the same kinds on behavior he was being accused of with his offensive retweets of other people’s opinions of Latham. A former AFR colleague and someone I think may be involved in the promotion of his latest book Latham at large tried to calm the situation by asking Latham to comment on the current state of Australian politics but unfortunately he had got up a big head of steam and used this question to talk about his treatment at the hands of the AFR management. A number of people left the session as Latham swore at various people and continued his bizarre rant.
After the session, MWF released a statement saying: "Melbourne Writers Festival was disappointed in Mark Latham's appearance today. It was not the respectful conversation we value. Mr Latham's session was booked four months ago. He was invited to speak on the topic of politicians as journalists."
Green simply tweeted: “Well that escalated quickly”.

Sunday 23 August

Liane Moriarty and Graeme Simsion in conversation with Toni JordanAussie bestsellers

This session celebrated the enormous success of Moriarty and Simsion.
Liane Moriarty is the New York Times bestselling author of The husband’s secret and Big little lies plus four other novels while Graeme Simsion wrote the phenomenally successful The Rosie project and it’s sequel The Rosie effect.
Toni Jordan {author of Addition and a great interviewer} revealed that US actor Jennifer Lawrence has just signed to play Rosie in the film after the rights were sold to Sony.  The film and television rights for Big little lies have been snapped up by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Moriarty and Simsion were asked what people like about their books. For Moriarty it’s humour and about being about to identify with the characters and for Simsion it’s about laugh out loud moments and character engagement. The panel discussed books covers; international audiences, how they write and the joys and fears they face in trying to write another great book. This was a feel good session, lots of laughs and insights from three fabulous writers.
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