It’s half way through 2015 and time for a literary stock take of my year so far. The bare statistics underpinning six months of reading pleasure are: total number of books – 55 books consisting of 50 novels, three works of non-fiction, one book of poetry and one play. The gender breakdown was 33 women writers and 22 male, drawn from 13 countries, with the largest number coming from Australia and Great Britain. Below are my ten favourite books (so far), not in any particular order as just selecting the ten was hard enough. One of Us by Asne Seirstad, Waiting for the Past by Les Murray and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna deserve a special mention because they would have been on the list if the Top 10 was actually a Top13.
- Station 11 by Emily St John Mandel
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
- Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw
- The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
- River of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
- The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
- One Life by Kate Grenville
- The Bees by Laline Paull
- The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock
- Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Emily Bitto whose The Strays won this year’s Stella Prize, Joan London, Kate Greville and Chigozie Obioma are among the headline writers appearing at the 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival which is running 7-9 August. The program for the festival, which is held on a beautiful site just a stone’s throw from the ocean…
Is creative writing a natural talent or can it be taught? Other artistic endeavours, such as painting, dance and film-making are all available at universities or colleges of further education resulting in qualifications like bachelor of fine arts or bachelor of visual arts. Aushor and teacher Tegan Bennett Daylight considers the rise of the creative writing class in an article in the books section of the current The Weekend Australian.
She says that one of the most common problems emerging from the creative writing program is a “kind of flatness; a sameness that results in what American poet Donald Hall called McPoems and McStories.” With a good teacher, she says, that’s easily tackled. “A good teacher of writing won’t congratulate (the) student on his fluency, although she rewards him with decent marks for competency with the language. A good teacher should
A lack of the ”special quality” of previous winners means that Australia’s most important prize for younger writers, The Australian/Vogel Literary Award, won’t be handed out this year. The award, which brings with it $20,000 and guaranteed publication by Allen & Unwin, has been the catalyst for the careers of…