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Books do not necessarily bring us all together, tell ‘our’ story, unite us. AAP/Joe Castro

PM’s Literary Awards: how reading opens us to a world of pain

On Monday night, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced with a tie in the fiction category between A World of Other People by Steven Carroll and the Booker Prize and Queensland Literary Award…
Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest has won the inaugural Voss Literary Prize. Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr

The Voss Literary Prize celebrates a fine new Australian novel

The Voss Literary Prize, for which I was a judge, was awarded for the first time this week. The winner, Fiona McFarlane for her novel The Night Guest, was chosen from a shortlist that included Hannah Kent…
Nick Cater’s shortlisted work, The Lucky Culture, is one of several non-fiction options. AAP /Dean Lewins

The curious case of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

This year’s cultural debates about the constitution of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards judging panels are now giving way to consideration of the shortlists and their relative worth. Even as these…
The Robert Farquharson case raised questions about male violence that go unanswered. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Garner’s This House of Grief ducks some hard questions

Helen Garner isn’t usually thought of as a crime writer, but some of her best-known prose has been on law-breaking. She won the prestigious Walkley Award for her 1993 Time Magazine article on the murder…
We don’t seem to be able to shake our cultural status anxiety. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

The Book Club, Flanagan and our endemic cultural cringe

Writing in the Bulletin in January 1899, Henry Lawson complained about the difficulties of making a living as a writer. In this article he offered the emerging author a piece of unvarnished advice: [S]tudy…
Winner of the chicken raffle. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Australian writer Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker prize

Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Giving his acceptance speech he said: In Australia the Man Booker is seen as something of a chicken…
Three of the five Miles Franklin award nominees for 2013 were women - but female authors are still underrepresented in the review pages. AAP Image/Honner Media, Hamilton Churton

The Stella Count is in – women authors don’t get fair treatment

So, the Stella Count is in for 2013. These are annual statistics collected by the Stella Prize that measure the number of books by women that get reviewed in major publications and the number of books…
What renders this work a classic, a book that every Australian should read? Palo

The case for The Commandant by Jessica Anderson

“We knew it in words, yet kept it secret,” says Frances, the young sister-in-law of Patrick Logan, the eponymous – and notoriously cruel – commandant of Moreton Bay penal colony in Jessica Anderson’s ground-breaking…
Can literary works play a productive part in the process of reconciliation? butupa

The case for Gail Jones’ Sorry

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology…
All serious writers should take their own work, and the efforts of others, seriously. photosteve101

Book reviewing is an art, in its own way

There should be no hard and fast rules concerning book reviewing. That’s because reviewing constitutes a worthy genre in its own right, one that should not be limited by guidelines or mandates. Criticism…
David Malouf’s Imaginary Life plays out in the hillsides of the Black Sea. What’s so Australian about that? Hans Juul Hansen

The case for David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life

… further from the far, safe place where I began, the green lands of my father’s farm, further from the last inhabited outpost of the known world, further from speech even, into the sighing grasslands…
Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Antoine Robiez

In defence of book reviewers in Australia

Book reviewers and the editors of periodicals that commission them are used to sour assessments of their worth, but Professor John Dale’s article on The Conversation yesterday is in a class of its own…
A Million Windows asks a good deal of its readers, requiring us to piece together elements through patterns of connections rather than through a clear narrative line. runmonty

A look through A Million Windows by Gerald Murnane

Gerald Murnane’s most recent novel, A Million Windows, might be read as a meditation on the relation between sound and silence. At the heart of the novel, though only revealed at the end, is a secret that…
What is lost and gained when book reviewers remain faceless? Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, laughingsquid.com

Anonymous book reviews don’t foster our literary culture

The Saturday Paper publishes anonymous book reviews and, occasionally, reviews by identified critics. That anonymity was a much-discussed feature when the paper launched in March, and the debate continues…
Popular fiction and artistic merit are often considered mutually exclusive – not here. chiaralily

The case for Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore

Crime novel covers are often plastered with endorsements: “A terrific read,” “A real page-turner,” or “Author Y is the next Author X.” It’s far less common to read quotes such as the following from Fairfax…
A deeply moving novel about loss, grief and an unconventional coming of wisdom. yaruman5

The case for Randolph Stow’s To the Islands

Randolph Stow’s To the Islands (1958) is an astonishing novel, a work of poetic skill and political subtlety – and one that is rarely mentioned today. Its omission from Australian literary syllabuses and…
Hardback, paperback … it’s always good to read between the lines. Dave Sag

Cover story: why are books so expensive in Australia?

Five years ago, in the midst of the rancorous parallel importation debate the Productivity Commission undertook a thorough examination of book prices in Australia compared to comparable prices in the US…

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