A pair of

Ragged claws

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Stephen Romei

THE Aus­tralian/ Vo­gel’s Lit­er­ary Award for an un­pub­lished man­u­script by a writer un­der 35 is one of our most im­por­tant, and I’m not say­ing that just be­cause we put up some of the bread, so to speak. The Vo­gel, first awarded in 1980, launched the ca­reers of Tim Win­ton, Kate Grenville, Brian Cas­tro, Gil­lian Mears, He­len Demi­denko (oops!), An­drew Mcga­han, Mandy Sayer and many oth­ers. Last year’s win­ner, the first to ben­e­fit from im­me­di­ate pub­li­ca­tion (pre­vi­ously there was quite a lag), was Tas­ma­nian writer Ro­han Wil­son for The Rov­ing Party. Wil­son’s novel has sold about 6000 copies to date, about four times what can be ex­pected of most de­but Aus­tralian lit­er­ary fic­tion. I put that down to Allen & Un­win’s sen­si­ble shift to in­stan­ta­neous pub­li­ca­tion, and the fact it’s a bloody good book. And it’s not just the win­ners who win. Many Vo­gel con­tenders go on to find a pub­lisher: you can read a re­view of Floun­der­ing, by Romy Ash, one of Wil­son’s ri­vals last year, on page 23. This year’s Vo­gel will be an­nounced on April 26. And en­tries are open for the 2013 award. For de­tails go to al­lenan­dun­win.com I DON’T know about you, but I dis­like it when a book has stick­ers on it. ‘‘Miles Franklin win­ner’’, ‘‘Booker Prize 2011’’ (of­ten for a short-lis­tee), ‘‘Oprah’s choice’’, that sort of thing. I al­ways peel them off, and then have to deal with that re­silient sticky residue. I had to laugh though, when a new Aus­tralian novel, which I won’t name, landed on my desk with a gold sticker on the front cover that prom­ises: ‘‘Pub­lisher’s Guar­an­tee: 100 per cent sat­is­fac­tion or your money back!’’ I mean, it’s a book not a bot­tle of wine for good­ness sake. You buy the book, you roll the dice: if you end up not en­joy­ing it that’s life. And 100 per cent sat­is­fac­tion? Surely on that ba­sis you’d be en­ti­tled to a re­fund on just about ev­ery book ever pub­lished. Even Moby-dick has some un­sat­is­fy­ing patches. Fol­low­ing on from last week’s Miles Franklin Lit­er­ary Award spec­u­la­tions, what chance Pa­trick White pick­ing up his third in 2013 for his new novel The Hang­ing Gar­den, which Ge­ordie Wil­liamson re­views in glow­ing terms over to my left. The an­swer is none and Buck­ley’s: clause 11 of the Miles Franklin terms and con­di­tions state: ‘‘The au­thor must be liv­ing at the time of the award be­ing pre­sented.’’ They say life wasn’t meant to be easy, but death sure does dis­crim­i­nate. White, who left us in 1990, won the in­au­gu­ral Miles Franklin in 1957 for Voss and was suc­cess­ful four years later for Riders in the Char­iot. BY the time you read this, I won’t be here. I’m away from the desk un­til late April, partly on leave, partly on as­sign­ment as we say in the trade. How­ever, I will be clack­ing away on my blog, which you can find via the link be­low.


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