A pair of

Ragged claws

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Stephen Romei

AN early pre­dic­tion: the most short­listed novel on the lit­er­ary prize cir­cuit this year will be Anna Fun­der’s All That I Am. Hav­ing said that, I’ll be sur­prised if it, or any novel, dom­i­nates as Kim Scott’s That Dead­man Dance did last year. There’s just too much com­pe­ti­tion. I’m look­ing for­ward to the Miles Franklin long list, which is due to be an­nounced some time this month (I’m writ­ing on March 15). Aside from Fun­der’s su­perb book, here are 11 oth­ers (to give us a dozen) that I ex­pect to be in con­tention: Steven Am­s­ter­dam’s What the Fam­ily Needed, Mark Dapin’s Spirit House, Gail Jones’s Five Bells, Mal­colm Knox’s The Life, Wayne Ma­cauley’s The Cook, Gil­lian Mears’s Foal’s Bread, Frank Moor­house’s Cold Light, Favel Par­rett’s Past the Shal­lows, El­liot Perl­man’s The Street Sweeper, Ro­han Wil­son’s The Rov­ing Party, Char­lotte Wood’s An­i­mal Peo­ple. And no doubt I’ve missed some. I KEEP mean­ing to men­tion the en­ter­tain­ing new on­line jour­nal of Syd­ney poet John Tran­ter . . . so here goes: you will find it at john­tran­ter.net/jour­nal. Tran­ter writes en­gag­ingly about a lot of things: po­etry of course, art, films, food, travel. Search for the piece ti­tled ‘‘Book ti­tles can be tricky’’. It’s a lot of fun, as is the whole site. I RE­CENTLY had lunch with a well-read friend who re­vealed he didn’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate Boris Paster­nak’s Doc­tor Zhivago un­til his re­cent fifth read­ing of it. He first read it as a youth; he’s now 50. This re­assess­ment has seen him el­e­vate Paster­nak to­wards, if not ex­actly into, the same same com­pany as the great Rus­sian epic nov­el­ists: Tol­stoy, Dos­toyevsky and (for my friend and per­haps for me too) Mikhail Bul­gakov. I won­der, does this sort of thing hap­pen of­ten? THE last time Bri­tish philoso­pher A. C. Grayling graced our shores, it was for stand­ing room only events at last year’s Syd­ney Writ­ers Fes­ti­val. I ex­pect he’ll draw sim­i­lar crowds on his re­turn next month for an out-of-sea­son fes­ti­val event, not least be­cause he’ll be talk­ing about one of the hot-but­ton is­sues of the mo­ment: the phone hack­ing scan­dal that has en­gulfed the Bri­tish me­dia in gen­eral and Ru­pert Mur­doch’s News Cor­po­ra­tion in par­tic­u­lar. Grayling dis­cusses ‘‘The public, the pri­vate and the line be­tween’’ at the City Recital Hall in Syd­ney on April 17. For de­tails call 1300 797 118 or (02) 8256 2222 or go to cityrecital­hall.com.

‘‘Who has?’’ Joseph Heller’s an­swer, later in his life, to those who asked him why he had never writ­ten a book as good as Catch-22. OK, it’s an oldie, but I think it’s a goodie and I hadn’t heard it un­til it cropped up in a fas­ci­nat­ing piece about Heller in the March 8 is­sue of the London Re­view of Books.


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