Craig Silvey’s 2009 novel Jasper Jones continues to garner praise. After winning several high profile Australian awards in 2009-2010 and being shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Western Australian tale has now been chosen as an honour book in the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. This US prize, named after a Kansas librarian and offered by the American Library Association, names one winner and four honour books annually. The award was won in 2009 by Melina Marchetta for On the Jellicoe Road.
Jasper Jones is published in the US by Alfred K. Knopf (see US book cover, at left, with the Printz medallion sticker affixed). To read about this year’s Michael L. Printz winner and the other 2012 honour books, visit the American Library Association website.
Writers from the worlds of academia, libraries, theatre and the media were among those recognised in the 2012 Australia Day Honours list. Those awarded include:
- Stuart Macintyre (AO) for distinguished service to the social sciences and to the humanities as a leading academic in the areas of 19th- and 20th-century Australian history, particularly through advancing the understanding of social and political life, and as an author, researcher and mentor
- Paul Brunton (OAM) for service to the community through library services
- Roy Masters (AM) for service to sport through executive roles with the Australian Sports Commission, to the sport of Rugby League football, and to journalism
- Ros Pesman (AM) for service to tertiary education through academic and administrative roles, particularly the study of the history of Italian migrants in Australia, and to the community
- Carol Woodrow (AM) for service to the performing arts, to youth theatre as an artistic director, and to the development of women playwrights in Australia
A full list of recipients is available by following the links on the Governor General’s It’s an Honour website.
Entries for this year’s Prime Minister’s Literary Awards close on Wednesday, 1 February. Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Simon Crean, is pleased with the number of entries received so far and says that the judging panels are already underway with their reviewing process.
This year’s awards include a prize for poetry for the first time. Mr Crean commented that ‘from bush ballad to hip hop, poetry is ingrained in the cultural life of our nation and our great poets deserve to be recognised alongside our best authors and historians’. (Media release, 25 January 2012)
Award categories now cover adult fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, poetry, young adult fiction and children’s fiction. A total of $600,000 will be awarded across the six categories.
To keep up to date with the news on the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, subscribe to the Awards e-newsletter, join the Awards Facebook page or follow developments on Twitter (search for @artsculturegov or #PMAwards).
Peter Temple’s Truth is the winner of the international division of the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Prize). The prize, awarded annually since 1985, is judged by scholars, literary critics and booksellers.
Temple’s Truth is published in Australia by Text Publishing and in German translation by C. Bertelsmann Verlag. A feature film adaptation of Truth is currently being planned by filmmaker and Tropfest founder, John Polson. (Also adapted for film is Temple's 'Jack Irish' character. Two 'Jack Irish' telemovies will reach the small screen in 2012. Further details of the television productions are available on ABC Television's official blog.)
The AustLit community is saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Boitran Huynh-Beattie. Boitran has been a researcher and indexer with the Australian Multicultural Writers section of AustLit at the University of Wollongong for the past three years. She died as a result of a stroke on Monday 16 January 2012, in Singapore.
A number of writers are among those chosen as Australia Day Ambassadors for 2012. Gretel Killeen will be an ambassador in the Northern Territory, Toni Johnson-Woods will represent Queensland and Bryce Courtenay will ‘fly the flag’ in the Australian Capital Territory. In New South Wales, ambassadors include Valerie Parv, Judy Nunn, Thomas Keneally, Libby Hathorn, Susanne Gervay and Bruce Elder.
The Australia Day Ambassador Program sees ‘high achieving and proud Australians attend local Australia Day celebrations in towns and cities across the nation'.
Valerie Parv has already acted as an ambassador. Reflecting on her 2011 opportunity, she wrote: ‘Best of all I enjoy sharing my experience of becoming an Australian, sailing into Sydney Harbour on the Fairsky from England at the age of seven. Little did I imagine I would one day address whole communities on the subject ... This really is the lucky country.’ (Valerie Parv’s website)
More information on the Ambassador program and other Australia Day activities is available on the Australia Day website.
New South Wales poet Mark Tredinnick is the winner of a new international poetry award – the $50,000 Montreal Poetry Prize. Tredinnick’s poem, ‘Walking Underwater’, was selected from over 3,000 entries and read ‘blind’ by a panel of distinguished poets including former UK Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.
‘Walking Underwater’ was written in 2010 while Tredinnick was visiting Portland, Oregon. Motion describes the ‘big, bold-thinking’ poem as one in which ‘ancient themes (especially the theme of our human relationship with landscape) are re-cast and rekindled’.
Eight poems by Australians were included on the award’s shortlist (including two by Tredinnick). The poems can be viewed (and in some instances, heard) on the Montreal Poetry Prize website.
Canadian publisher Véhicule Press has produced a book comprising all the longlisted titles. Information on the Global Poetry Anthology is available here. And Tredinnick’s website provides detailed information on his winning poem’s background and meaning. He also comments on the site that, as ‘poets live in debt’, winning the prize ‘will go toward paying some of mine down, but it will also ‘finance more of the silence upon which the making of poems depends’.
A new avenue for Australian short fiction publication is being launched on 10 January 2012. The Review of Australian Fiction, edited by Matthew Lamb, will be published fortnightly and be available via electronic download. Each issue will contain two stories, the first by an established author and the second by an emerging writer. The established author will select the emerging writer to provide the second story for the issue.
Issue one of the review carries stories by Christos Tsiolkas and Kalinda Ashton. The second issue will feature Georgia Blain and P. M. Newton, while issue three will pair father and daughter combination David Foster and Zoe Foster.
Data released by Nielsen Book Scan shows Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves as Australia’s bestselling fiction title for 2011. Other Australian authors in the top ten are Di Morrissey for The Opal Desert (ranked third) and Geraldine Brooks for Caleb’s Crossing (ranked seventh).
In the non-fiction bestseller list, Australian authors are represented by Anh Do’s multi-award winning The Happiest Refugee (in fifth place) and Peter FitzSimons’s Batavia (in tenth place). No Australian writers made the top ten in children’s books; the category is dominated by American author, artist and game designer, Jeff Kinney who takes out six of the top-ranked titles.
Nielsen surveys 1,000 bookshops, including book chains, department stores and independent booksellers, for the annual sales compilation. At present, sales of print books only are counted but the organisation is seeking ways to incorporate e-book sales in the future.
For further information, see the Nielsen Book Scan Australia website.
John Kinsella has withdrawn from the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize shortlist due to ethical concerns over sponsorship. The prestigious award, offered by the UK Poetry Book Society, is being sponsored for the first time by hedge funds manager Aurum. (The new arrangement follows the loss of funding from the UK Arts Council).
Kinsella received information on the fund from fellow prize-nominee Alice Oswald. He then released a statement withdrawing his collection Armour from the shortlist. Kinsella said: ‘I regret that I must do this at a particularly difficult time for the Poetry Book Society but the business of Aurum does not sit with my personal politics and ethics’.
Oswald has also withdrawn from the shortlist, leaving eight contenders for the 2011 prize. The winner will be announced in London on 16 January. For further information on the T.S. Eliot Prize, visit the Poetry Book Society’s website. And for Kinsella's view on the potential for poets to bring about 'positive social, ethical and political change', see his article 'Keeping Poetry outside the Comfort Zone', posted on the New Statesman website on 13 December 2011.
Author, poet, critic and broadcaster Clive James has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for ‘services to literature and the media’. The award was announced in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year Honours List. James was among almost 1,000 people included in the British list of whom nine were recognised for their contribution to literature.
James recently published A Point of View, a collection of his contributions to the BBC Radio 4 program of the same name. James’s reflections range across such subjects as wheelie bins, plastic surgery, the Olympic Games, Harry Potter, car parks and giving up smoking.
James has lived and worked in the UK since the 1960s. He became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992. Samples of James's writing can be found on the website CliveJames.com.