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.”