The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Stephen Romei

I wrote last week about Char­lotte Wood’s grip­ping new novel The Nat­u­ral Way of Things. I’m pleased to be able to tell you that we will run an ex­clu­sive ex­tract from the book here next week. Syd­ney his­to­rian Alan Atkin­son has picked up another award for the third and con­clud­ing vol­ume of his history of Aus­tralia, a work that has earned him com­par­isons with Man­ning Clark. The Euro­peans in Aus­tralia, Vol­ume Three: Na­tion won the Aus­tralian History Prize at the re­cent NSW Premier’s History Awards. The Gen­eral History Prize went to War­wick An­der­son and Ian Mackay for In­tol­er­ant Bod­ies: A Short History of Au­toim­mu­nity and the NSW Com­mu­nity and Re­gional History Prize to Ba­bette Smith for The Luck of the Ir­ish: How a Shipload of Con­victs Sur­vived the Wreck of the Hive to Make a New Life in Aus­tralia. The Young Peo­ple’s History Prize was won by My Gal­lipoli, by Ruth Starke and Robert Han­naford, and the Mul­ti­me­dia History Prize went to Dan Gold­berg and Margie Bryant for Bril­liant Crea­tures. Each prize is worth $15,000. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all. Tas­ma­nian poet Kris­ten Lang has won the Aus­tralian Catholic Univer­sity Prize for Po­etry, worth $7000, for her poem Glass. West Aus­tralian poet Josephine Wil­son was run­nerup for Orans and Can­berra poet PS Cot­tier was awarded third prize for Route 9. The judge was US-based Aus­tralian poet and philoso­pher Kevin Hart. Con­grat­u­la­tions, too, to NSW poet An­thony Lawrence on be­ing awarded the Philip Hodgins Me­mo­rial Medal, which comes with a cash prize of $3000. Lawrence has won nu­mer­ous awards for his po­etry, but says this one means the most to him as he knew Hodgins, who “was and still is a ma­jor in­flu­ence on my work’’. Af­ter read­ing Gre­gory Day’s re­view on this page of newly trans­lated nov­els by the French No­bel lau­re­ate Pa­trick Mo­di­ano, all I want to do is check into a ho­tel for a week, shut out the world, and read noth­ing else. The prob­lem with this plan is I have a pre-ex­ist­ing agree­ment with my­self to check into a ho­tel for a week and read noth­ing but Elena Fer­rante. The prob­lem with that is I have a prior en­gage­ment to check into a ho­tel for a week and read noth­ing but Karl Ove Knaus­gaard. One day. The mys­te­ri­ous Fer­rante, whose iden­tity is known only to a hand­ful of peo­ple, re­cently granted an email in­ter­view to Van­ity Fair ahead of the pub­li­ca­tion of The Story of the Lost Child, the fi­nal novel in her Neapoli­tan quar­tet, the hype about which has moved into outer space, planet Earth be­ing too small to con­tain it. In the in­ter­view, the Ital­ian writer is scathing about per­sis­tent spec­u­la­tion that she is in fact a well­known male writer (or, given the mag­ni­tude of her suc­cess, a ca­bal of well-known male writ­ers). Her thoughts on this pro­vide our Quote of the week: “Have you heard any­one say re­cently about any book writ­ten by a man, ‘It’s re­ally a woman who wrote it, or maybe a group of women?’ Due to its ex­or­bi­tant might, the male gen­der can mimic the fe­male gen­der, in­cor­po­rat­ing it in the process. The fe­male gen­der, on the other hand, can­not mimic any­thing, for it is be­trayed im­me­di­ately by its ‘weak­ness’; what it pro­duces could not pos­si­bly fake male po­tency.

“The truth is that even the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try and the media are con­vinced of this com­mon­place; both tend to shut women who write away in a literary gy­nae­ceum. There are good women writ­ers, not-so-good ones, and some great ones, but they all ex­ist within the area re­served for the fe­male sex, they must only ad­dress cer­tain themes and in cer­tain tones that the male tra­di­tion con­sid­ers suit­able for the fe­male gen­der.”

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