BOOK NEWS: NSW Premier’s Literary Award winners, Les Murray passes, and Sydney Writers’ Fest kicks off

by |May 1, 2019

It’s another big week for literary news.

Book awards season has well and truly begun, with shortlists, festivals, and winners being announced left, right, and centre – expect to see some of 2018’s biggest titles taking the spotlight once again. This week, we’ve also said goodbye to a true literary legend, who passed away on Monday.

Grab yourself a cup of tea and scroll down to see all the latest in book news…

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

The winners of the annual NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced earlier this week in a presentation ceremony at the State Library of NSW.

The coveted Book of the Year prize went to Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, an archaeological exploration of Australia’s vast history by Billy Griffiths. Other big winners included Michelle de Kretser (The Life to Come), Trent Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe), and Behrouz Boochani (No Friend But the Mountains).

You can find the full list of winners here.

NSw Premier's Literary Award winners
The 2019 winners of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Les Murray has passed away

Les Murray, the beloved Bard of Bunyah, has passed away aged 80. The poet, essayist, and cultural critic’s death was confirmed by his agent, Margaret Connolly, on Monday.

Murray leaves behind a considerable legacy as one of Australia’s most brilliant poets, who wrote about the lives of the rural working class and the stark beauty of the Australian landscape. His poetry was recognised across the world, and he was the recipient of the 1996 T.S. Eliot prize and the 1999 Queen’s gold medal for poetry.

You can read more about Les Murray here.

Poet Les Murray
Poet Les Murray, who has died aged 80

Sydney Writers’ Festival kicks off

Sydney’s biggest literary event, Sydney Writers’ Festival, was launched last night at the Festival hub at Carriageworks.

The theme for this year’s festival is Lie To Me, a fascinating meditation on the mendacious power of fiction, and it was front and centre at last night’s opening address, given by authors Max Porter (Lanny), Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Friday Black), and Meg Wolitzer (The Wife).

The Festival will be running until 5 May – you can check out all of the sessions and buy tickets here, or see our rundown of the must-see events and authors here.

Sydney Writers' Festival Opening Address
The Opening Address of Sydney Writers’ Festival, 2019

The Women’s Prize announces its 2019 shortlist

The shortlist is here for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The longlist this year was full of big names and even bigger titles that were widely expected to be there (think Sally Rooney and Normal People), but the shortlist this year was whittled down to six books that make up for a rather interesting mix. It includes Madeline Miller (Circe), who previously won the prize in 2012 for The Song of Achilles, and Anna Burns (Milkman), who was also a previous nominee for No Bones.

You can see the full shortlist here.

If I were a betting girl, I’d put my money on debut author Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, a deliciously dark and comic little book that’s been gathering some steady buzz on Twitter. Watch this space.

The Women's Prize for Fiction
The Women’s Prize for Fiction judging panel: Dolly Alderton, Arifa Akbar, Professor Kate Williams, and Leyla Hussein

Other interesting tidbits…

In the book world, there’s never a shortage of odd bits of news trickling in. Here are some of the best from this week:

  • A non-fiction followup to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange has been found in the author’s archive. Described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography,” this unfinished work shows Burgess reflecting on the controversy around the novel’s film adaptation and the copycat crimes it inspired. Read more here.
  • Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate is often touted as the twentieth century’s answer to War and Peace. This rich family saga and searing vision of Stalinist Russia has a prequel, Stalingrad, which is now being published in English for the first time. Check it out here.
  • Apparently Clarissa Dalloway is a Virgo. The Paris Review published a definitive rundown of the astrological signs of some of your favourite literary characters from everyone’s favourite Twitter astrologers, The Astro Poets. It’s a quirky and fun read – if astrology is your thing, take a look here.

Stay tuned for our rundown of the Australian Book Industry Awards night, coming this Friday!

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About the Contributor

Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, Olivia decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.

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