Saturday, August 09, 2008

Oh No You Don't, Kev!

Compared to China, and perhaps elsewhere, Australia is abashed, sceptical and ironic about its writers. Literary prizes tend to raise little public attention: Australia has no equivalent, for example, of the Man Booker carnival, and there's no especial public esteem offered to the lucky recipients of awards. The Miles Franklin Award, arguably the country's most prestigious, raises an eyebrow, but has little hope of competing for cultural attention with the panoptical hyperbole of television or sport.
Gail Jones writes on the Guardian blog about why the newly established Australian Prime Minister's Literary Award (for which she has been shortlisted) is very important:

It seemed, simply by its announcement, to affirm a new commitment to literary culture, to legitimate its importance, and to suggest, almost heretically, that writing was an activity worthy of serious regard and reward.
and why, at the same time, the PM Kevin Rudd should not choose the winner.

And the nominations for the award are :
Fiction shortlist

Burning In by Mireille Juchau
El Dorado by Dorothy Porter
Jamaica: A novel by Malcolm Knox
Sorry by Gail Jones
The Complete Stories by David Malouf
The Widow and Her Hero by Tom Keneally
The Zookeeper's War by Steven Conte

Non-fiction shortlist

A History of Queensland by Raymond Evans
Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time by Clive James
My Life as a Traitor by Zarah Ghahramani with Robert Hillman
Napoleon: The Path to Power, 1769-1799 by Philip Dwyer
Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers by Philip Jones
Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer
Vietnam: The Australian War by Paul Ham
A full synopsis of all the books can be found in pdf's on the award website : fiction here and non-fiction here.

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