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NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, 2010

May 18, 2010
Document Z bookcover

Document Z cover image (Courtesy: Allen & Unwin)

The literary awards season is well and truly here downunder … and last night, just before the opening of this year’s Sydney Writers Festival, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for 2010 were announced.

The  full list of winners can be found here, so I’ll just name the critical ones, from my point of view (with links to relevant posts of mine):

  • Christina Stead Prize for Fiction: J.M. Coetzee, Summertime
  • Script writing award: Jane Campion, Bright Star & Aviva Ziegler, Fairweather Man
  • UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing for Fiction: Andrew Croome, Document Z
  • The People’s Choice Award: Cate Kennedy, The World Beneath
  • Special Award: The Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature

Not a bad result from my point of view. I have been meaning for some time to dip into the Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature properly. I wonder at myself sometimes really. What have I been doing posting on various offerings of the Library of America, when I could (should) in fact be choosing some choice items from this volume to share with you. I really must (want to) rectify this. (That said, another Library of America offering will be winging its way to you soon!)

Anyhow, I’m not going to ramble on about the Awards, but I would like to make one comment, and that is that the People of NSW seem to like what our judges tend to dismiss! Last year, they voted for Steve Toltz’s wonderful A fraction of the whole and this year they’ve gone for Cate Kennedy’s The world beneath. Both these books were longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in their years, and were well reviewed around the traps, but both were not shortlisted. An interesting state of affairs, n’est-ce pas?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2010 6:38 pm

    What a fascinating discussion: so much food for thought. There was a much earlier bio of Keats (name of inestimable author shamefully escapes me; but published in ’70s to gt acclaim – rightly, as extremely enlightening). Amazed by Ben Wishaw’s success so far; but he’d certainly look the part … Keats’s early medical studies @ Guy’s Hosp probably fed his rather melancholy but thoroughgoing sensuality. He really was the poet of the physical, of the visual of the tangible (and by extension of That Which Doesn’t Last) so more aware than most of the importance of filling the fleeting moment. I imagine he’d always have been the first in any group to twig that ‘no birds sing’. His letters are worth a look, also – full of observations of things normally overlooked, eg watching a particularly bustling mouse and almost envying its sense of purpose.
    Jane Campion much admired in the UK (although I loathed ‘The Piano’, I’m afraid: in the minority there!).
    And so many people who say they don’t like poetry often turn out to be capable of quoting huge chunks of the more literate lyrics of popular music … ;-)!

  2. May 18, 2010 10:24 pm

    I was pleased to see that Document Z won an award too; I wonder what Croome is working on now?

    • May 18, 2010 11:05 pm

      Lisa, Yes, it will be interesting to see won’t it? I wonder if he will stay historical? I must read Summertime… Coetzee can be a bit of challenge but I do like the sort of challenge he presents!

      Minnie, thanks for your comments. And thanks, on the other post, for giving the name of that bio. We had a wonderful Treasures exhibition here a few year’s ago which included special items from libraries around the world. One of the treasures was a letter Keats wrote to Fanny from Italy as he was dying. It was very poignant. And, you’re right about Whishaw – he was perfect for the pale, sickly poet-type!

  3. May 19, 2010 2:17 am

    I am far too ignorant of Anzac fiction to be able to offer any comment on that, other than to express interest in all things literary. Isn’t it strange that our two nations have such widely divergent awards. I wonder why the people of NSW have different preferences to the other provinces. I look forward to your next LofA posting.

    • May 19, 2010 9:47 am

      Thanks Tom … I think I was a little obscure, The People of NSW voted for the People’s Choice Award versus the rest of the awards made by judges. I think the People – clearly not the people who vote for Bryce Courtenay et al in those bookshop polls – have their own take on contemporary Australian literature, and I’m rather glad they do.

  4. May 20, 2010 12:22 am

    Award season in any country is interesting especially when the lists can possibly overlap. Why does a book make one list but not the other? I think awards are great for getting people to take note of good books, but they also prove over and over the subjectiveness of judging literature.

    • May 20, 2010 10:27 pm

      Absolutely – a useful guide but by no means the final arbiter eh. Only each individual reader can be that I think.

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