Saturday, June 21, 2008

Good News from the Suburbs

Steven Caroll takes this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia's most prestigious prize, with his novel The Time We Have Taken which the judges called :
... a moving and indelible in its evocation of the extraordinary in ordinary lives.
Carroll who is also a playwright and theatre critic has been nominated for the award twice before - in 2002 for The Art of the Engine Driver (which also won France's Prix Femina for Best Foreign Novel) and in 2005 for The Gift of Speed. The winning novel, which also won the 2008 Commonwealth Prize for the Asia-Pacific region, forms the third part of a trilogy.

Carroll says that he draws his inspiration form the suburbs. On radio show AM he said :
This book, and the three books that constitute the trilogy, are all set in a rectangle of land that is around about a mile and a half long and a half mile wide, out there on the suburban frontier, and right from the start I found in that rectangle of land, not just satire, not just stereotype, and not just TV sitcom, but I found the stuff of literary fiction. ... I've got letters from people from the first two books and they say, what a relief it is to read a book that actually treats the suburbs with a bit of respect and treats the characters from the suburbs with respect. Not as just sort of, you know, stock comic buffoons.
You can read extracts from the novel on the Harper Collins website, and there's more about Carroll's win at The Australian.

Meanwhile, Geraldine Brooks has won Australian Book Industry's Book of the Year Award for People of the Book, described on Brook's website as :
... an intricate, ambitious novel that traces the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from convivencia Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia.

Inspired by the true story of a mysterious codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book is a sweeping adventure through five centuries of history. From its creation in Muslim-ruled, medieval Spain, the illuminated manuscript makes a series of perilous journeys: through Inquisition-era Venice, fin-de-siecle Vienna, and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo.

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