The Association for the Study of Australasia in Asia (ASAA) is holding an international Patrick White Centenary Conference in Hyderabad, India, 5-7 November 2012. The conference hopes to ‘encourage new and innovative explorations of White's work’, highlighting the evolution of his ‘political sympathies and socio-cultural ethos’, feminist and post-colonial readings of his works, and White’s 'influence on Australian and other writers and vice-versa'.
Further information on the conference, including registration details, is available here. A call for papers (abstracts not exceeding 200 words) closes on 15 June 2012.
(Image credits for the portrait of Patrick White, above: Brendan Hennessy, Portrait of Patrick White, 1984, silver gelatin on fibre-based paper. Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)
The centenary of Patrick White's birth is being celebrated musically as well as visually. (See ‘Patrick White Exhibitions in Canberra' for examples of the latter.) On Sunday, 26 May, ABC Radio National broadcast Patrick White’s Ear. The 44-minute episode of the Into the Music program features composers and friends of White sharing their stories and observations. ‘Carl Vine, Peter Sculthorpe and Moya Henderson talk frankly about setting [White’s] words to music, while Vincent Plush and Jack Carmody reflect on its place in his work.’ The episode also includes readings by Kate Fitzpatrick from six of White’s novels. To listen to Patrick White’s Ear, click here.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra's (ACO) June 2012 touring program features music linked directly to White. The orchestra is premiering a new composition by Carl Vine using text from The Tree of Man. Vine writes: ‘the text is full of lilting, natural and repetitive rhythms, which I have heightened with simple step-wise melody and accompaniment that emphasises its regularities ... I have endeavoured to reflect, in every aspect of the music, the simplicity and sincerity of the novel’s language’ (Carl Vine’s website). Details of the ACO tour dates and locations are available on the orchestra’s website.
(Image credits for the portrait of Patrick White, above: Margaret Woodward, Portrait of Patrick White, Centennial Park, 1993, pen, ink. Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)
Two of Australia’s leading cultural institutions are currently mounting exhibitions to celebrate the centenary of Patrick White's birth.
At the National Library of Australia, The Life of Patrick White looks at White’s life ‘through the places he lived’. With content drawn largely from the library’s own collection of White papers, the exhibition ‘not only tells the story of White in all his guises, it also provides great insight into the post-war Australian arts scene’.
The National Portrait Gallery is hosting The White Whiteley Exhibition centring on Brett Whiteley's Patrick White at Centennial Park, 1979-1980. Whiteley painted the work while White was writing the autobiographical Flaws in the Glass: A Self-Portrait. The two portraits — ‘painted and written' — 'developed together’. The Portrait Gallery describes the Whiteley painting as ‘one of Australia’s great portraits’, but notes that ‘White felt betrayed by elements of the work’.
Both exhibitions are free and are open daily. The National Library exhibition runs until 8 July, after which it will re-locate to the State Library of New South Wales (13 August to 28 October). The exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery will be on display until 22 July. Further information is available at these websites: National Library of Australia and National Portrait Gallery.
(Image credits for the portrait of Patrick White, above: A. T. Bolton, Patrick White, Centennial Park, 1984, gelatin silver. Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)
Monday, 28 May 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Patrick White. Born in London, White returned to Australia with his family at the age of six months. Sixty years later, he became the first (and to date, only) Australian citizen to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. His citation reads ‘for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature’.
White began writing as a child, his ‘literary efforts from the age of about nine running chiefly to poetry and plays’. He continued to write — while jackerooing, he wrote novels ‘behind a closed door’; while at Cambridge, he ‘wrote fitfully, bad plays, worse poetry’.
White’s first novel, Happy Valley, was published in London in 1939. Following war service with the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer, White returned to Australia and settled first at Castle Hill in outer Sydney and then in the city at Centennial Park. Writing of this latter setting, White said: ‘On the edge of Centennial Park, an idyllic landscape surrounded by a metropolis, I have had the best of both worlds. I have tried to celebrate the park, which means so much to so many of us, in The Eye of the Storm and in some of the shorter novels of The Cockatoos. Here I hope to continue living, and while I still have the strength, to people the Australian emptiness in the only way I am able.’ (All quotations from Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980.)
White remained in his Centennial Park home until his death in 1990. His literary achievements are being celebrated in 2012 through exhibitions, conferences and creative productions. Some of these will be highlighted on AustLit’s newsflash in the coming days. For those in Sydney, Fred Schepisi's 2011 film The Eye of the Storm will be screened tonight (Monday, 28 May) at Dendy Opera Quays. For further information, see the University of Sydney’s Australian Literature Program website.
(Image credits for portrait of Patrick White, above: Louis Kahan, crayon and pencil drawing, . Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)
The Australian Society of Authors has announced Anna Funder’s All That I Am as the winner of the Barbara Jefferis Award for 2012. Funder's novel was selected as the winner from a shortlist of six, which included novels by Georgia Blain, Claire Corbett, Gail Jones, Gillian Mears and Frank Moorhouse. Though they did not make the shortlist, novels by S. J. Finn, Kelly Gardiner and Meg Mundell were highly commended by the judges.
Valued at $35,000, the Barbara Jefferis Award is offered annually for 'the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society'.
All That I Am describes the dark days that build towards the second world war in the lives of German political exiles at home and in London. In narrator Ruth Blatt and her cousin Dora Fabian, Funder creates two complex and fascinating heroines who pursue the possibilities, and suffer the consequences of, both action and inaction in times of great peril. Steeped in a little-known area of modern history, this novel explores the nuances of the committed political life, friendship and love, and the broader human qualities of passion and idealism.
The shortlist was whittled down from a longlist of 55 novels from 19 publishers. At least some of the contenders were self-published. Overall, the judges were impressed by the imaginative investment evident in several debut novels, as well as in the contributions from established authors. Funder's novel was published by Penguin.
Currently in its fifth year, the Award is paid from the Barbara Jefferis Literary Fund, established by a bequest from Barbara’s husband, film critic John Hinde. Barbara Jefferis was a novelist, a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors and its first woman President. Past winners of the Award include Helen Garner, Rhyll McMaster, and Kristina Olsson.
Wednesday, 23 May is National Simultaneous Storytime Day. Now in its twelfth year, this event is organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to ‘promote the value of reading and literacy, using an Australian children's book that explores age appropriate themes and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Grades 1 to 6’.
Everyone is invited to join Zebra, Lion, Moose and Sheep as they attempt to placate the Very Cranky Bear. The nation-wide reading time is 11.00 AEST. To find out more, visit ALIA’s National Simultaneous Storytime website.
Novelist, poet, editor and critic James Bradley is the winner of the 2012 Geraldine Pascall Prize for Critical Writing. Judged this year by previous winners Geordie Williamson and Alison Croggon, the prize aims to ‘reward a critic or reviewer whose work changes the perceptions of Australians, opens their eyes to a different perspective of their culture, develops a new interest in the subject and is both imaginative and creative’.
The judges stated that Bradley’s writing has ‘served as a bridge between traditional reading communities and new online readerships ... Beyond his keen, insightful and always entertaining reviews there is a sense of larger cultural phenomena being addressed. His reviews are postings from the frontline of a revolution.’ The judging panel also commented that Bradley was chosen for ‘practicing what he preaches’ and for being ‘a true practitionercritic’.
The winners of the 2012 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) were announced in Sydney on 18 May. The overall Book of the Year, together with the Literary Fiction Book of the Year, was awarded to Anna Funder for All That I Am. The General Fiction Book of the Year prize went to Kate Grenville for Sarah Thornhill and Newcomer of the Year is Favel Parrett for Past the Shallows.
William McInnes and the late Sarah Watt won the General Nonfiction Book category for Worse Things Happen at Sea, and the late Hazel Rowley was the winner of the Biography of the Year for Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage.
Awards for children’s books went to Emma Quay for Rudie Nudie (Book of the Year for Younger Children) and Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton for The 13 Storey Treehouse (Book of the Year for Older Children).
Allen & Unwin was named Publisher of the Year for the third year in a row while Text Publishing took out its first award in the Small Publisher of the Year category. Emphasising the losses to Australia’s literary community in the past twelve months, Text publisher Michael Heyward dedicated his company’s win to the late Diana Gribble.
Further information on the ABIA awards is available on the Australian Publishers Association website.
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has announced five recipients of Picture Book Illustrators’ Initiative Grants for 2012. The initiative ‘aims to establish a “best-practice” methodology for assessing applications from picture book illustrators for the Australia Council’s New Work funding category’.
The Assessment Panel considered over 100 applications from 92 illustrators and awarded grants in three categories – Emerging, Developing and Established. The Emerging Illustrator’s grant of $5,000 went to Trace Balla and further grant was awarded to Craig Phillips. In the Developing category, Caroline Magerl received $10,000 and Judy Watson, $5,000. The recipient of the $15,000 Established Illustrator’s grant is Narelle Oliver.
To see the full list of shortlisted illustrators, go to the Australian Society of Authors website. And to enjoy some of the emerging artists' work, see Trace Balla's photostream on Flickr and Craig Phillip's illustrations on his website.
Dr Martin Thomas, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of History at The Australian National University, is the winner of the 2012 National Biography Award. Thomas won the $25,000 award for his 2011 biography, The Many Worlds of R. H. Mathews: In Search of an Australian Anthropologist.
Mathews was a nineteenth-century surveyor and anthropologist who produced a large volume of writing resulting from his field investigations into Indigenous communities in New South Wales.
Alex Byrne, the NSW State Librarian, commented that Thomas’s ‘forensic research’ and ‘superb writing’ produced a biography that reminds Australians of Mathews’s ‘immense contribution’ as an ‘outstanding early investigator of our first peoples and their cultures’.
One of the National Biography Award judges, Peter Rose, said that Thomas’s biography stood out ‘because of its originality, its immense detail and scholarship, and its luminous engagement with his subject’. (NSW State Library media release, 14 May 2012)
The winners of the 2012 Josephine Ulrick prizes have been announced in Queensland. The prizes, for a short story and for poetry, are administered by Griffith University's School of Humanities.
The 2012 literature prize was awarded to Matthew Lamb, editor of the Review of Australian Fiction, for his short story ‘Long Grass over Home’. Lamb describes his story as revealing what happens when you ‘lift the crust of the dung heap and let the stench rise’.
Melbourne writer Maria Zajkowski has won the poetry prize for the second year running. In 2011, a suite of poems from her manuscript ‘The Ascendant’ won the award; this year, another suite from the same manuscript has taken out the $20,000 prize. Zajkowksi says her poems are ‘about existence, and that death is not non-existence. They focus on gain as much as loss, and how inseparable these two things are.’ (Griffith University media release, 4 May 2012)
Zajkowski will use her prize money to spend some time in Europe; Lamb hopes his win will ‘help legitimise his work, particularly with the [Review of Australian Fiction] to promote and disseminate Australian fiction and short stories.
More information on the Josephine Ulrick prizes is available on the award website.
The shortlist for the 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award has been revealed by the award’s trustee, The Trust Company. This year’s short list comprises five books, including three by women, one of whom is a first-time novelist.
Parrett’s novel, her first, is set on the south-east coast of Tasmania and explores the life of a dysfunctional family. Brothers Miles and Harry are subject to the anger and violence of their hard-working, hard-drinking father, but offer each other care and protection in this harsh environment.
The Miles Franklin judges wrote: ‘Parrett’s controlled, unadorned narrative completely immerses the reader in the marginalised and isolating world of the boys' circumstances: the all-pervasive, random violence of their father, the ocean which both supports them and drains them, and their own strategies for surviving their situation ... Past the Shallows is an intensely moving novel, about the importance and sustaining power of love and responsibility, and the tragedies which can unfold in their absence.’
The winner of this year’s Miles Franklin will be announced on 30 June. To read all the judges’ notes, go to the Miles Franklin website and follow the links to the shortlist.
Jeanine Leane is one of four Australians shortlisted for the inaugural Commonwealth Book Prize. Leane, a former co-ordinator of AustLit’s BlackWords Research Community, is shortlisted for her intertwined collection of stories, Purple Threads. Other Australians on the shortlist are Christopher Currie, for The Ottoman Motel, Mette Jakobsen, for The Vanishing Act, and Cory Taylor, for Me and Mr Booker.
The Commonwealth Book Prize is being offered by Commonwealth Writers, a new cultural program running under the auspices of the Commonwealth Foundation. Prizes will be awarded for each of five regions — Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific — and an overall winner will then be selected.
Book Prize chair Margaret Busby commented that the judges were looking for ‘potential and promise from the entries. We certainly found what we were hoping for with some consummately accomplished writing from some very interesting writers.’
The five regional winners will be announced on 22 May and the overall winner on 8 June. To see the full shortlist and read more of the judges’ comments, follow the links on the Commonwealth Foundation’s news site.