Toni Whitmont review: 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Award winners announced – Alex Miller and Malcolm Fraser scoop the pool

The winners of the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Sydney Opera House last night. Some of the countries leading writers and luminaries were at the event, including ABC TV presenter Jennifer Byrne (as MC), NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and former Prime Minster of Australia, Malcolm Fraser.

One of Australia’s best-loved writers, Alex Miller, was awarded the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for Lovesong, described by the judges as “a magnificent novel of desire”.

(No surprises there – we are Miller groupies here at Booktopia. Go here to see his answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions and here to see my interview with him on the publication of Lovesong).

Alex has received numerous awards for his writing, including twice winning the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. Miller also won The People’s Choice Award. Introduced three years ago to increase public engagement with the arts, the People’s Choice Award was chosen by Australian residents from the six novels shortlisted for the Christina Stead Prize.

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, along with Margaret Simons, were awarded the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction for Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs. It also took out Book of The Year. The judges described  it as an engaging work that demonstrates how literary craft can transcend the usual limitations of political autobiography.
The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, established in 1979, were Australia’s first premier’s awards. In their 32 year history, they have honoured many of the nation’s greatest writers, including Continue reading

The 50 Must Read Australian Novels (10 to 1) (The Popular Vote 2010)

So, it’s come to this, has it?

The Top Ten Must Read Australian Novels, as voted by you lot.

It’s a list of surprises – there’s the inclusion of Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (it’s a film ain’t it?), the omission of Peter Carey and Patrick White from the top ten and, the biggest surprise of all, the winner. I mean, really!, who would have guessed it?

Let me take a moment to congratulate all those who voted, you have excellent taste –  I salute you. And I salute you again since you also managed to push my great love Christina Stead into the top ten, well done (and you managed to keep Bryce at bay. Clap, Clap, Clap.)

By the way, three of my favourite Australian novels made the top ten. Yay! Can you guess which three?

In a few days time I will post the full fifty. Thanks again. Here are the top ten…. (Full Fifty now available here)

(Please Note: A clever twitter chap suggested I allow one novel per author. I thought this a fair idea and I made it law. The highest ranking title by an author is the one included in the top fifty. Many writers, Tim Winton, Patrick White, Peter Carey, Bryce Courtenay etc had many titles listed in the original longlist but only the most popular is listed here.)


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10. The Man Who Loved Children

Christina Stead

The Man Who Loved Children is Christina Stead’s masterpiece about family life. Sam and Henny Pollit are a warring husband and wife, he a fully blown narcissist and she spoiled and prone to fits of despair.

Their hatred, aggravated by too little money and too many children, lies at the centre of this chilling and brilliantly observed novel about relations between parents and children, husbands and wives.

The Man Who Loved Children is acknowledged as a contemporary classic of Australian and international literature. Continue reading

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