A pair of
THE Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under 35 is one of our most important, and I’m not saying that just because we put up some of the bread, so to speak.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.