Category Archives: Australian authors

Australian Awards (Amanda Lohrey)

The most recent Australian literary award to be granted goes to Amanda Lohrey, author of many lovely novels and short stories. Lohrey has just won the prestigious Patrick White Literary Award, ‘which acknowledges a body of work rather than a single publication.’ Her latest book is a collection of short stories, Reading Madame Bovary (2010) and I can strongly recommend Camille’s Bread, the story of a single woman bringing up her young daughter in contemporary Sydney.

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Writers’ Week 2013

Something to look forward to after the National Year of Reading 2012 is over: the Adelaide Festival’s  Writers’ Week in March 2013.  Laura Kroetsch, the director, spoke to us in the library last night  ; her passion for reading and her enthusiasm for Writers’ Week were contagious.

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End of the Night Girl

Next month I will have the pleasure of introducing Amy Matthews, the award-winning Australian author of End of the Night Girl (Wakefield Press, 2011.) Amy works  at the University of Adelaide; she is a Research Fellow of the discipline of English and Creative Writing. As the Research Librarian for this group, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss Amy’s novel with her, and to sit in on some of her lectures, when she discussed post-modernism, creative non-fiction and the work of Michael Cunningham ( particularly The Hours, both text and film.)

Amy’s debut novel won the Adelaide Festival Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript in 2010; it was also nominated for the Australian / Vogel prize. The book was short-listed this year for the Dobbie Award, a prize that celebrates Australian women’s writing. It is currently short-listed for the Colin Roderick Award.

The novel is a powerful narrative about the long shadows cast by the Holocaust. It begins in late 20th-century Adelaide, where Molly, a young waitress, is struggling to make sense of her life (marked by dead-end jobs, unsatisfactory love affairs and a strained relationship with her family.) Molly’s secret life as a writer is a vitally important part of the story: she is consumed with the need to write about the Holocaust, taking the life of a Polish woman, Gienia, as her starting-point. Gradually, the character of Gienia comes to dominate Molly’s life – in a kind of sinister haunting that makes for deeply unsettling reading.

End of the Night Girl is a brilliant novel: highly recommended.

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A Common Loss / Kirsten Tranter

Australian author Kirsten Tranter’s second novel is as accomplished as her first ; she is a natural story-teller with a gift for language.  The ‘common loss’ in the title refers to the shared bereavement of four young American men. On one level, their loss is the death of  a close friend from university days.  On a deeper level,  all of the men – but particularly Elliot, the narrator – have lost a common understanding, the accepted view of their shared past.

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Miles Franklin Award 2012

There is often a whiff of scandal about Australia’s most prestigious literary award.  $50,000 is a lot of money.  One of Australia’s most notorious literary hoaxes was perpetuated when Helen Demidenko, the 1995 winner, lied about her origins; the previous year, author Frank Moorhouse  had threatened legal action when his book was excluded from the short list. Every year, the concept of  ‘Australian-ness’ is debated, as the judges struggle to fulfill the prize’s two criteria: literary merit and the representation of ‘Australian life in any of its phases.’ Continue reading

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The House of Fiction

Elizabeth Jolley is one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers;  her strange, gothic fiction has enjoyed both critical and commercial success. This book is a biography examining part of her life; it is written by her step-daughter, Susan Swingler, the only child of Leonard Jolley’s first marriage.

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Poet’s Cottage (Book Review)

Poet’s Cottage is a haunted house. Australian author Josephine Pennicott has taken the traditional features of a good old-fashioned English ghost story (creaking floors, slamming doors, things that go bump in the night) and transplanted them to 20th century Australia. The transition is an effective one: the seaside village of  Pencubitt is quiet and remote, its nineteenth-century buildings have dark cellars and spider-ridden attics and its people are eccentric. If there are ghosts anywhere in our ‘wide brown land’, I would expect to find them somewhere like  Tasmanian “Pencubitt”.

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