‘‘ IT’S the best damn read I’ve had in a long time.’’ Thus spake Nigel Krauth, reviewing Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in these pages a couple of months ago. Give that man a Pulitzer: Diaz, not Krauth, although the latter has written some damn fine books in his time, too ( search out The Bathing Machine Called the Twentieth Century for irrefutable proof of that). Anyway, Krauth clearly knew what he was talking about because Diaz was this month announced winner of a Pulitzer prize for fiction. PUBLISHING is a- changing; in weird and wonderful ways. HarperCollins in the US has announced a new ‘‘ studio’’ that will publish books in ‘‘ multiple physical and digital formats including those as yet unspecified’’ that will ‘‘ compensate’’ authors through a ‘‘ profit- sharing model as opposed to a traditional royalty’’. Sorry about all the inverted commas, but all of this is very mysterious. EXCELLENT news from Sydney University Press for those who believe that the loss of our literary history is not just sad but foolish. Using the advantage of print- ondemand technology, SUP has brought back into print 22 ( with more to come) classic Australian works, including authors such as Jessica Anderson, Eleanor Dark, Kylie Tennant, Bruce Beaver and David Ireland. In June, SUP’s Susan Murray- Smith tells us, it will start releasing new editions of books such as Anderson’s The Commandant and Martin Boyd’s A Difficult Young Man, with commissioned introductions by scholars. MEANWHILE, Tracy Chevalier ( Girl with a Pearl Earring ) has said the royalty system is a ‘‘ dam that’s cracking’’, warning authors that attempts to prevent piracy on the internet are failing. She is calling for a ‘‘ very different pay system, possibly by making the content available free to all’’ and finding a way for authors to be paid separately. NOW look here, Penguin Australia. It’s all very well putting out a call for submissions for crime fiction, but it’s a bit rich calling it a competition, with the prize ( roll those drums) a publishing contract. Isn’t publishing what publishers do, or am I missing something here? It’s a worry, too, that Penguin UK’s editorial director, Beverley Cousins, one of the judges for this competition, tells us she’s been in Australia for six months to immerse herself in Australian crime writing, ‘‘ and in so doing, drink in such a talented range of authors, original characters and atmospheric and exotic locations’’. Drinking in what you’re immersed in is not wise, Ms Cousins. The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, worth almost $ 170,000, relies on nominations from libraries and amasses a huge long list before being whittled to a short list of eight. On that short list is Gail Jones for Dreams of Speaking . The winner will be announced on June 12. The $ 20,000 National Biography Award was split between Philip Dwyer’s Napoleon and Graham Seal’s These Few Lines: The Lost Lives of Myra and William Sykes . And Caroline Overington won the $ 30,000 Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature for her Kickback: Inside the Australian Wheat Board Scandal .
overflow@ theaustralian. com. au