A few weeks ago, I wrote a Monday Musings on the revival of The Age Book of the Year award. Back then, there was no information about when the shortlist would be announced. Suddenly, however, with no fanfare, it was announced yesterday afternoon – at least that’s when the announcement I saw was posted.
The judging panel comprised Jason Steger (The Age’s literary editor); Susan Wyndham (author and former The Sydney Morning Herald literary editor), and Thuy On (poet and critic).
The shortlist was drawn from books published between 1 June last year and 31 May this year.
I’ve included a brief excerpt for each book of Steger’s (the judging panel’s?) comments:
- Robbie Arnott’s The rain heron (Kim’s review): “Its separate but connected narratives are beguiling, beautiful and violent”.
- Steven Conte’s The Tolstoy Estate (my review): “restrained, elegant prose that crackles with sexual, moral and political tension”.
- Richard Flanagan’s The living sea of waking dreams (Lisa’s review): “provocative story [that] taps into our anxieties with an urgent plea and hopeful flashes of beauty”.
- Kate Grenville’s A room made of leaves: “a witty voice that blends echoes of Jane Austen with a contemporary perspective”.
- Amanda Lohrey’s The labyrinth (Lisa’s review): “explores the contradictions of human nature and community with wry wisdom”.
- Nardi Simpson’s Song of the crocodile (my review): “its lyricism and attentiveness to language are testament to Simpson’s musicality”.
- Adam Thompson’s Born into this (my review): “the past is never far from the present in these nuanced glimpses of complex lives”.
A lucky seven, eh? It’s not a particularly provocative or surprising list. It largely reflects the books currently doing the awards rounds, which is not to say it’s not a reasonable list. It contains four male to three female writers; two First Nations writers; a short story collection; two debut books; two works of historical fiction; four by previous winners of major literary awards. Something for everyone?
I’m thrilled that I’ve actually read – and greatly enjoyed – three of these.
The winner, who will receive $10,000, will be announced on September 3, at the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Now, my usual question. Thoughts anyone?