Caroline Baum wins the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

Booktopia’s Editorial Director Caroline Baum has just been announced as the winner of the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Adelaide Writers Festival tonight, the announcement followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture, given by David Marr.

Caro“Caroline Baum’s proposed biography of Lucie Dreyfus is ambitious in scope, international in reach and blazingly original,” said Janine Burke, one of the judges of the Fellowship. “This is an untold tale. And what a tale!”

Baum will use the $10,000 Fellowship to write a biography of Lucie Dreyfus (1870-1945).

Lucie Dreyfus was married to Alfred Drefyus, the French artillery officer who was at the centre of one of the most divisive political scandals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In Baum’s words, her project “seeks to restore Lucie Dreyfus to her rightful place in history”. As part of her research, Baum will translate into English the letters between Lucie and Alfred when he was imprisoned on Devil’s Island. These letters, written in French, have not previously been translated. Baum’s biography will focus on aspects of anti-semitism as well as Lucie Dreyfus’s experiences as a Jewish woman living in occupied Paris during the Second World War.

Now in its fourth year, the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was established to encourage Australian authors to attain a high standard of biography writing and to commemorate the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley. Having published four major books, Rowley established herself as one of the world’s leading literary biographers before dying suddenly in 2011.

Last year’s winner of the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was Maxine Beneba Clarke for The Hate Race, her forthcoming memoir about growing up black in white, middle-class Australia. Stephany Steggall was the 2013 winner for her biography of Thomas Keneally and the inaugural 2012 winner was Mary Hoban for her biography of Julia Sorell.

230914carolinebaumbuzzheader616+x123Check out Caroline’s Books of the Month in The Booktopia Buzz

VIDEO: Debra Oswald on Offspring fandom and her new novel Useful

Debra Oswald is the co-creator and head writer of the TV series Offspring which recently finished its fifth season. She chats to Caroline Baum about her transition to adult fiction with her darkly funny new novel Useful.

Grab a copy of Debra Oswald’s Useful here

useful-signed-copies-available-

Useful

by Debra Oswald

Once a charming underachiever, he’s now such a loser that he can’t even commit suicide properly. Waking up in hospital after falling the wrong way on a rooftop, he comes to a decision.

He shouldn’t waste perfectly good organs just because they’re attached to his head. After a life of regrets, Sully wants to do one useful thing: he wants to donate a kidney to a stranger.

As he scrambles over the hurdles to become a donor, Sully almost accidentally forges a new life for himself. Sober and employed, he makes new friends, not least radio producer Natalie and her son Louis, and begins to patch things up with old ones, like his ex-best mate Tim. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of him.

But altruism is not as easy as it seems. Just when he thinks he’s got himself together, Sully discovers that he’s most at risk of falling apart.

From the creator of Offspring comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man’s desire to give something of himself.

Grab a copy of Debra Oswald’s Useful here

Congratulations to our Useful Facebook competition winners Amie Clarke, Edel Taylor, Hanadi Nasser, Jan Hartz and Elaine Smith. You’ve all won a copy of Useful! Please email your details to promos@booktopia.com.au and we’ll get your books out to you ASAP!

VIDEO: James Bradley on his long awaited new novel Clade

James Bradley’s past novels Wrack, The Deep Field and The Resurrectionist have won or been shortlisted for a number of major literary awards. He chats with Caroline Baum about his new novel Clade.

Grab a copy of James Bradley’s Clade here

 clade-signed-copies-available-Clade

by James Bradley

Compelling, challenging and resilient, over ten beautifully contained chapters, Clade canvasses three generations from the very near future to late this century. Central to the novel is the family of Adam, a scientist, and his wife Ellie, an artist. Clade opens with them wanting a child and Adam in a quandary about the wisdom of this.

Their daughter proves to be an elusive little girl and then a troubled teenager, and by now cracks have appeared in her parents’ marriage. Their grandson is in turn a troubled boy, but when his character reappears as an adult he’s an astronomer, one set to discover something astounding in the universe. With great skill James Bradley shifts us subtly forward through the decades, through disasters and plagues, miraculous small moments and acts of great courage. Elegant, evocative, understated and thought-provoking, it is the work of a writer in command of the major themes of our time.

Grab your copy of James Bradley’s Clade here

Caroline Baum a finalist for the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

Caroline-BaumBooktopia’s Editorial Director Caroline Baum has been named a finalist for the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, awarded annually to an Australian writer for a proposed biographical work.

The Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was established in 2011 to encourage Australian authors to attain a high standard of biography writing and to commemorate the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley, who died in 2011.

Foreign Soil author Maxine Beneba Clarke won the 2014 Fellowship for her memoir The Hate Race, to be published later this year.

The winner of the fellowship, worth $10,000, will be announced at an event at Adelaide Writers’ Week on 4 March.

Click here to see Caroline’s favourite books of 2014

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BOOK REVIEW: Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa (Review by Caroline Baum)

The energy of this debut novel just leaps off the page. Musa, a charismatic rapper, has successfully translated the idiom and pulse of performance to the page with its syncopated rhythms and hard-edged beats. Inevitably, he is being compared with his mate Christos Tsiolkas for his full-frontal engagement with contemporary Australian society: in this case, multicultural masculinity with its surges of often misdirected testosterone. In small town suburbia during a tinder-dry summer, anything could happen. Booze, drugs, violence and a racing dog all help pass the time.

At the centre of this compelling mash up of poetry and prose are three iconic young men: Solomon, a charming Samoan, who has broken up with his girlfriend and is fascinated by Scarlett, a free spirited tattooist; his half-brother Jimmy, who has got himself into trouble, and their Macedonian childhood friend, Aleks.

Musa manipulates language with raw, bracing vitality, offering up a picture of Australia that is not pretty but feels authentic.

Grab a copy of Here Come the Dogs here

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Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.


here-come-the-dogsHere Come The Dogs

by Omar Musa

In small town suburbia, three young men are ready to make their mark.

Solomon is all charisma, authority and charm, down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family and his homeland, and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line?

Solomon, Jimmy and Aleks: way out on the fringe of Australia, looking for a way in. Hip hop and graffiti give them a voice. Booze, women and violence pass the time while they wait for their chance. Under the oppressive summer sun, their town has turned tinder-dry. All it’ll take is a spark.

As the surrounding hills roar with flames, the change storms in. But it’s not what they were waiting for. It never is.

About the Author

Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He is the former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released three hip hop albums, two poetry books (including Parang), appeared on ABC’s Q&A and received a standing ovation at TEDx Sydney at the Sydney Opera House.

Grab a copy of Here Come the Dogs here

BOOK REVIEW: Deco Radio by Peter Sheridan (Review by Caroline Baum)

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan is a man possessed by a peculiar but persistent affection for bakelite – the world’s first synthetic plastic. To some, this material may appear unlovely and charmless, but to Sheridan it is the stuff of poetry. As a result, he has become one of the world’s foremost collectors of objects made from this versatile and resilient man-made resin.

A genial enthusiast, the curator of his own private museum, Sheridan is equally happy to share his passion with complete amateurs and connoisseurs alike. Ask casually about any of the three hundred radios displayed in his Sydney home and you will get their history, provenance, and a surprising anecdote that explains their shape, colour or origin. He is a competitive bidder, an astute buyer, always on the trail of a new acquisition and has some sound advice for aspiring collectors which he shares in the text that punctuates this sleek but hefty coffee table book.

Showcasing what he calls the most beautiful radios ever made, Sheridan has photographed them with loving care in close up, so that every feature is shown to best advantage. They have sexy curves, voluptuous bodies, and come in a wide range of colours – forget about bakelite brown, the greens and reds really pop. Shot against deep dramatic black they gleam on the page like jewels.

Their shapes reflect what was happening in industrial design, fashion and popular culture with style and humour. My favourite has a mantel (casing) that features the mesh silhouette of a woman’s head.

Sheridan’s lively text is a timely reminder of how central radio was to the lives of people around the world back in the early twentieth century ; how they were the source of pleasure , broadcasting live entertainment and music that people listened and danced to in their homes as well as including declarations of war that shaped the century and changed lives forever. The radio was the vehicle of coded messages and signals to allied troops and resistance fighters. Under the Nazi regime, being caught listening to the enemy was punishable by death.

Anyone with a nostalgic interest or enthusiasm for the glorious heyday of art deco and its sleek modernity will find this irresistible.


deco-radioDeco Radio

by Peter Sheridan

With 380 brilliant photos and engaging text, this book presents some 300 of the rarest and most beautiful radios ever made for home or workplace. The advent of the small, mantle or tabletop radio in 1930 gave a huge impetus to the spread of radio, not only allowing multiple sets in the home, but changing the listener from the family to the individual. This book highlights a small subset of tube (valve) radios that incorporated new styling, materials, and approaches to consumer marketing in the 1930s and 1940s. Until now they have been underrated by many radio enthusiasts, and largely unrecognized in the world of Art Deco and Industrial Design. The radios of 35 industrial designers, including the luminaries of streamlining in the USA and UK (Loewy, Bel Geddes, Teague, Van Doren, Vassos, Coates, and Chermayeff) are identified and examples from 15 countries are stunningly displayed.

About the Author

Peter Sheridan is a respected historian, lecturer, and author, with a collection of radios considered one of the world’s finest. His highly acclaimed book Radio Days–Australian Bakelite Radios (2008) is the standard reference for Australian radio collectors. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, Peter’s photos are used by media, museums, and specialist publications.

 Click here to grab a copy of Deco Radio 

BOOK REVIEW: The Golden Age by Joan London (Review by Caroline Baum)

Do you remember polio? Perhaps you don’t, but when I was growing up there were children who wore callipers (metal contraptions bolted to their leg below the knee) at my school or limped along wearing an awful tall shoe.

Joan London has chosen child polio victims as her subject for this beautiful, tender and gently moving novel set in The Golden Age, a home for polio sufferers called in nineteen fifties Perth. There, thirteen year old Frank meets fellow patient Elsa and the two fall quietly and gradually in love. Prompted by his encounter with a poet in an iron lung, Frank is also discovering his love of poetry and making his first tentative attempts to write.

London, who has always been a writer of great subtlety and sensitivity, particularly when it comes to parent child relationships, deploys a real delicacy and empathy towards her subject, most especially in dealing with the parents attitudes to their children’s illness: shame, bitterness, acceptance. She captures the attitudes towards disability of the era in a way that is a valuable reminder of how much things have changed for the better. Avoiding sentiment, she taps into genuine feeling achieving a quietly profound effect.

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Grab a copy of The Golden Age here

Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.


The Golden Agethe-golden-age

by Joan London

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia’s most loved novelists.

He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.

The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.

Written in Joan London’s customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection. It is a rare and precious gem of a book from one of Australia’s finest novelists.

About the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here

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