A pair of
I MENTIONED last week that Christopher Koch has a terrific new novel out, Lost Voices. I flew down to Tasmania recently to talk to Koch about the book, and spent a spent a lovely afternoon with the author and his wife, Robin, at their home in Richmond, just outside Hobart. You can read my interview with Koch on page 4. BEREFT is the book that just keeps on giving for Melbourne writer Chris Womersley. The novel, Womersley’s second, was published by Scribe in 2010, won several awards the following year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin. Now it has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year. Bereft, set in rural Victoria in the aftermath of World War I and centred on a young man blamed for a murder he did not commit, is a crime novel in the way Crime and Punishment is a crime novel. The reviewer in British newspaper The Independent put it well: ‘‘Chris Womersley has written a narrative that grips like a dingo’s jaws, but at the same time gives us those glimpses into human motivation, that particular gift of evoking atmosphere, which characterise the most satisfying literature.’’ Bereft is being lapped up by the crime-fiction hungry Europeans, with the French edition just going into a second print run. Womersley’s three rivals for the Gold Dagger, which is worth £2500 ($3900) and will be announced on October 18, are M. R. Hall for The Flight, Gene Kerrigan for The Rage and N. J. Cooper for Vengeance in Mind. The last Australian to win this coveted crime-writing prize was Peter Temple for The Broken Shore in 2007. You can learn more about the CWA and the Gold Dagger at www.thecwa.co.uk. And Bereft is not Womersley’s only prize contender in Britain next month: he also has made the 10-writer shortlist for the BBC Short Story Award, for his Chandleresque titled A Lovely and Terrible Thing. That prize, worth a cool £15,000, will be announced on Tuesday. Fans will be pleased to hear Womersley is well into his third novel, due to be published by Scribe next September. ‘‘It’s called Cairo and set in the mid-1980s art world,’’ he tells me. ‘‘It’s a coming-of-age tale about a young man who falls in with a group of charismatic bohemians who lure him into taking part in a famous art heist. There’s a little something for everyone: a love story, a bit of betrayal and some art forgery.’’ DEPARTMENT of corrections. Last week’s review of the Anthony Bourdain-Joel Rose graphic novel Get Jiro! was attributed to Andrew McMillen. The reviewer was in fact Cefn Ridout. And we jumped the gun with Iain Shedden’s review of a new biography of Leonard Cohen, I’m Man, as Random House does not publish it until November 1. I blame the Cohen stuff-up on my enthusiasm for the man and his music and my increasingly unreliable memory. QUOTE of the week: ‘‘Any residual nastiness in ... Sweet Tooth has been curiously displaced, on to the cover of the book. I don’t mean the photographic image, which shows a glamorous woman in a red dress . . . I mean the texture of the actual lamination used on the dust jacket, almost sticky yet almost slimy, creating a subliminal urge to wash the hands that have been contact with it. This is an effect no e-book can hope to duplicate.’’ British novelist and critic Adam Mars-Jones, reviewing Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth in the London Review of Books, reminds us that he’s the reigning Hatchet Job of the Year titleholder.