The Weekend Australian - Review - - BOOKS -

WHEN the judges of Vo­gel Lit­er­ary Award failed to find a win­ner last year, Ge­ordie Wil­liamson, speak­ing on their be­half, said it would di­min­ish the prize to pick a win­ner for the sake of it, not least be­cause “read­ers can sniff out a com­pro­mise in an in­stant’’. He added that the award, which has launched the ca­reers of Tim Win­ton, Kate Grenville, Gil­lian Mears, Mandy Sayer, Brian Castro, Ro­han Wil­son and many oth­ers since 1980, “counts enough to de­serve a pause, when a pause is what is called for’’. He was right of course, and the pause has been fol­lowed by a pro­lif­er­a­tion: this year we have a win­ner, cho­sen from a strong shortlist of six.

There were 100 en­tries in to­tal for the Vo­gel, which is worth $20,000 and open to un­pub­lished manuscripts by writ­ers un­der 35. The win­ner, to be an­nounced on April 22, will be pub­lished by Allen & Un­win — and I am con­fi­dent it will not be the only short­listed work to find a pub­lisher.

This year’s judges were writer Danielle Wood, who won the Vo­gel in 2002, book­seller Fiona Stager and yours truly. We were im­pressed by the qual­ity of the en­tries and the range of their in­ter­ests — the shortlist spans so­cial satire, his­tor­i­cal drama, gritty re­al­ism and fan­tasy. Fol­low­ing are brief ex­tracts from each of the short­listed works. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the writ­ers.

Sam Car­mody

Gretchen Shirm

Chris­tine Piper

Stephanie Bishop

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