Griffin Poetry Prize announced

The winners of this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize were announced at a colourful Caribbean-themed awards in Toronto on 4 June.  

Notes From the Air: Selected Later Poems by John Ashberry (international) and The Holy Forest: Collected Poems by Robin Blaser (Canadian) were the 2008 winners. The C$1000,000 (A$103,000) prize, the richest in the world for a single volume of poetry, is divided between the two winners. The prize is for first-edition books of poetry published in 2007, and submitted from anywhere in the world..

The 2008 judges, poets George Bowering, James Lasdun, and Pura López Colomé, read an unprecedented 509 books from 31 countries in order to compile the shortlist and choose the winners. Selected poems from the shortlist will appear in The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology: A Selection of the 2008 Shortlist, edited by George Bowering and published by House of Anansi Press, with all royalties donated to UNESCO’s World Poetry Day.

For more information visit

Environment Awards for Children’s Literature announced

 The winners of the Wilderness Society’s annual Environment Awards for Children’s Literature have been announced.

Going Bush (Nadia Wheatley & Ken Searle, A&U) took out best nonfiction picture book. Going Bush is based on a Harmony Project, a bush walk in inner Sydney taken with 16 children from nearby primary schools, and incorporates their art and writing in a celebration of Aboriginal tradition, local knowledge, and the power of the land to unite us.

The award recognises works that encourage appreciation and understanding of the natural world or an awareness of environmental issues.

Canberra Writers’ Festival

The sixth annual Canberra Writers’ Festival will be held from 19 to 24 June. Guests include Garth Nix, David Malouf, Camilla Noli, Michael Robotham, Michelle Cahill and Alexis Fleming. There will be a seminar series for aspiring writers with tutors such as Mark Tredinnick (The Little Red Writing Book), Jeremy Fisher (president of the Australian Society of Authors) and former publisher and agent Lesley McFadzean. For the festival program, booking information and enrolment in the seminar series, as well as further news and information visit

Writers, publisher express concern over Henson controversy

MUP CEO Louise Adler and authors Peter Goldsworthy and J M Coetzee are among several ‘prominent figures’ who have writen an open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and NSW Premier Morris Iemma, asking them to ‘rethink their comments’ about the work of Bill Henson, which was last week removed by police from a Sydney gallery. The letter also calls on Minister for the Arts Peter Garrett to stand up against ‘a trend of encroaching censorship,’ according to today’s Age.

Pen ‘3 Writers Project’ authors announced

Sydney PEN has announced that Christopher Kremmer, Melissa Lucashenko and Anna Funder will be the next three writers commissioned for The 3 Writers Project, which last year featured Alexis Wright, Gideon Haigh and Christos Tsiolkas. Each author will write 10,000 words on ‘three big issues facing contemporary Australia’–Kremmer on ‘greed’, Lucashenko on ‘survival’ and Funder on ‘courage’. The writers will also each deliver a public lecture and discuss their essay in Sydney and Canberra and the three works will be published as a collection by Allen & Unwin next year.

Author behind Gun Alley murder pardon

Research by author Kevin Morgan and used for his book Gun Alley: Murder, Lies and Failure of Justice (S&S) has led to the pardoning of a man who was wrongly convicted for murder and hung in 1922. Colin Ross, who was hung for the murder of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke, was convicted after the jury was told that hair found in Ross’ home was that of the victim. After tracing the hair to an archive, author and researcher Morgan pushed for the hair to be examined using modern technology, which found that the hairs did not come from Tirtschke’s scalp. Ross was posthumously pardoned yesterday.

Fremantle Press makes e-book available free online

In an unusual move for an Australian publisher Fremantle Press has announced it will make e-book copies of Hal Spacejock 1 available free online from June.

The e-book giveaway coincides with the release of the fourth book in the series by Simon Haynes, who believes the move will help to build his audience. ‘Science fiction readers are typically technologically savvy and familiar with e-books,’ he said. ‘They are often bloggers with many online connections and the spread of information across the online community is incredibly fast.’

Fremantle Press sales and marketing manager Clive Newman said that while giving away a book for free–‘especially one that is on its third reprint’–was not something the Press would ‘normally contemplate’ he believed the giveaway would attract overseas readers who ‘aren’t going to buy the fourth novel … if they haven’t read the first.’

Overseas, publishers including HarperCollins have experimented with free online books recently and Fremantle Press says there are signs these can ‘lead to increased book sales.’

The free book can be found at

Robotham named Books Alive ambassador

Australian crime author Michael Robotham has been announced as the ambassador for the 2008 Books Alive campaign.

Robotham, whose first novel The Suspect sold more than 1 million copies, has written the short novel Bombproof, which will be this year’s giveaway book—being presented free to those who purchase any of the 50 Books Alive recommended reads as part of the Books Alive promotion.


Therese Rein official patron of 2008 Indigenous Literacy Project

This year’s Indigenous Literacy Day campaign will be officially launched by patron Therese Rein at an event in Sydney today.

The 2008 Indigenous Literacy Day, run by the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP) in conjunction with the Fred Hollows Foundation, will take place on Wednesday 3 September. It follows on from the success of last year’s inaugural Indigenous Literacy Day, which raised almost $250,000 to assist literacy projects in remote Indigenous communities. These funds were raised by publishers and booksellers donating a percentage of their earnings on the day, as well as through additional donations.

More here:

April book giveaways at Boomerang Books

I just wanted to let you know that there are three book giveaways in April at Boomerang Books.

We’re giving away a signed copy of Peter Carey’s His Illegal Self, a signed copy of Pamela Freeman’s Blood Ties, and a copy of the new AFL history book, The Australian Game of Football.

To go into the draw to win, please visit our giveaways page:

Dear Mr Rudd – new book edited by Robert Manne

This new book, edited by Robert Manne, was covered extensively in the media over the weekend.

In Dear Mr Rudd, leading Australian thinkers offer essays on key areas of interest: climate change, the economy, human rights, the republic, water and much more besides. Contributors include Hugh White, Pat Dodson, Julian Disney, and more.

Take a look at the videos here:

Buy the book here:

Video – Germaine’s Legacy – After The Female Eunuch – session at Adelaide Writers’ Week – Part 1

Robyn Davidson, Georgia Blain and Deborah Robertson join Germaine Greer in this Adelaide Writers’ Week panel to discuss the legacy of Greer’s The Female Eunuch.  Check out this new video from The Monthly posted on the Boomerang Books site here:

Tan nominated for a Hugo

The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Lothian) has been nominated for yet another award, this time in the United States.

The Arrival has been nominated for a Hugo in the official awards of the World Science Fiction Society, which are open to sci-fi, fantasy and horror titles.

Tan’s graphic novel has been nominated in the ‘best related book’ category for a title ‘which is related to science fiction, fantasy or fandom but does not qualify for any of the fiction categories.’

Tan himself has also been nominated in the ‘best professional artist’ category.

The awards are announced on 9 August at the 66th World Science Fiction Convention. For a full list of the nominations visit the Hugo Awards website

RIP Sir Arthur C Clarke

British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died aged 90. Author of more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books, he came to fame in 1968 when a short story called The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.

Books by Sir Arthur C Clarke…

New Heath Ledger Tribute Book

Five Mile Press will release a new tribute book to Heath Ledger in May 2008.  The book will retail for $24.95.

When the news of Heath Ledger’s tragic death first broke it sent shock waves through the world of showbusiness. Nominated for an Oscar for his role in the blockbuster movie Brokeback Mountain, Ledger seemed set for superstardom. No one could believe that such a bright light had been so suddenly extinguished.

Ledger was renowned for his dedication to his craft. He was a young man whose ambition had led him to eschew the heartthrob image Hollywood longed to bestow upon him in favour of roles that would help him fulfil his potential as an actor.

This book tells the story of how this single-minded determination to be the best took him from his home in Perth, Western Australia, to a life of international celebrity. It traces his career from the time he first appeared on stage at school, aged 10, to his many appearances on the red carpet at BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award ceremonies.

Featuring scores of photographs from his earliest years right up to his untimely death at the age of just 28, this book is a tribute to the talents of Heath Ledger.

Pre-order a copy now –

2008 Miles Franklin Longlist Announced

The longlist for the 2008 Miles Franklin award has been announced.

The nine novels selected are:

  • Landscape of Farewell (Alex Miller,  A&U)
  • Love without Hope (Rodney Hall,  Picador)
  • Orpheus Lost (Janette Turner Hospital, Fourth Estate)
  • Secrets of the Sea (Nicholas Shakespeare, Harvill Secker)
  • Sorry (Gail Jones, Vintage)
  • The Fern Tattoo (David Brooks, UQP)
  • The Memory Room (Christopher Koch, Knopf)
  • The Time We Have Taken (Steven Carroll, Fourth Estate)
  • The Widow and her Hero (Tom Keneally, Vintage)

More info:

Australian author Sonya Hartnett wins major award

Australian author Sonya Hartnett has been announced as the winner of this year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

She is the first Australian winner of the prestigious award, established by the Swedish Government in 2002. With prizemoney of five million Swedish Kroner (equivalent to approx. A$844,000), the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award is the world’s richest children’s and young people’s literary award. The award is administered by The Swedish Arts Council.

It’s fantastic to see Australian authors win internationally-acclaimed awards such as these.

Read more:

Free books for Victoria’s toddlers

Victoria’s toddlers will receive around 280,000 free books over the next four years, thanks to a $2.1 childhood literacy program from the State Government.

A literacy pack containing a rhyme booklet, information on libraries and the first consignment of books–Jeannette Rowe’s Whose Nose? Feet? Ears? (ABC Books)–will be distributed to 800 maternal and child health centres next week.

‘All studies show children have a much easier time with literacy at school when they are already familiar with activities like reading at home,’ Deakin University education lecturer, Leonie Rowan, told The Age.

Which books have changed your life?

We’re interested to know what books have ‘changed your life’ – have any books that you have read in the past had a profound effect on you? We’d like to know which ones. We may even try to build a Top 50 Most Influential Books at some time in the future…

For my part, these are some of the books that have been most memorable for me – it’s an eclectic bunch:

– Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson – This taught me to innovate and to be flexible. Failure comes to those who fail to embrace change and this is accelerated in the internet business.

– The Asterix series by Goscinny and Uderzo and Tintin series by Herge – I still read these books today even as a 33 year old. Although they are comic books, they fuelled my desire to read and taught me a little about history too.

– 1984 by George Orwell – I read this at school as a kid and found the book and the movie very disturbing – I am sure that this book will appear on many people’s ‘most influential’ lists. This book and Animal Farm, which I also read at school, has helped to shape my political views (I studied political science at uni)

– Gallipoli by Les Carlyon – I am an ex-Army officer and this book is a must read. There are probably more historically true accounts of the events at Gallipoli, but I found this book really compelling. Will definitely re-read this book prior to visiting Gallipoli, if I get the opportunity.

– Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – I borrowed this so many times from the primary school library that it has left an indelible mark on me.

– Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – simple learnings for people who want to become financially independent. The original book is the best and changed my mindset about life and finances.

– The Year of Living Dangerously by C.J. Koch – This was my first brush with the history and culture of Indonesia. I read it in Year 12. My interest was picqued and whilst in the Army I studied Bahasa Indonesia and became a linguist/interpreter and Indonesia specialist.

– The Crucible by Arthur Miller – another one that I read at school. I still quote from this play on occasions – a fart on you Thomas Putnam.

Well, I am interested to hear which books have impacted upon your life…

New release – The Other Boleyn Girl – Film Tie In

The Other Boleyn Girl – Film Tie-in Edition
by Philippa Gregory
ISBN 9780007262809

The bestselling historical novel from British author Philippa Gregory, based on the life of 16th century aristocrat Mary Boleyn. A tale of two sisters contending for the affection of King Henry VIII.

The Boleyn family is keen to rise through the ranks of society, and what better way than to place their most beautiful young woman at court? But Mary becomes the king’s mistress at a time of change. He needs his personal pleasures, but he also needs an heir.

Now a major movie release starring Natalie Portman, Scarlet Johansson and Eric Bana. In cinemas across Australia from March 13.

For a look at the trailer, click here

Wrap Up – Adelaide Writers’ Week

The 2008 Adelaide Writers’ Week has wrapped up.  The crowds were slightly smaller on Friday – probably because most attendees were recovering from heat stroke and dehydration from the four preceding days – the mercury rose to well above 35 degrees (well over 40 degrees in the author tents) on each of these days. 

In spite of the heat, the organisers must be mightily chuffed because the crowds were huge (an estimated 107,000 for the entire week), and most of the authors have proclaimed their love of Adelaide and their intention to return for future events.

Highlights and lowlights of the week included:

 – Geraldine Brooks’ launch of People of the Book – her book outsold all others at the festival – and her ‘meet the author’ session had most people spellbound.

– Germaine Greer’s contempt for male Shakespearean scholars and the fact that copies of The Female Eunuch sold out again…

– Popular author events for husband and wife pair Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster, whose New York flair was well received by the crowd

– The launch of His Illegal Self by Australian literary heavyweight Peter Carey

– Ian McEwan reading from his new work-in-progress book – a book for which he is yet to conceive an ending

– The sprinkler gremlin that rubbed out the ‘M’s in the book tent – all the McEwans, McDonalds and Maloufs were waterlogged and unsaleable….

– British historian Richard Davenport-Hines declaring Adelaide the best literary event that he had ever been to.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival – hopefully it won’t be so hot…

Adelaide Writers’ Week – Day 3

Well, I thought the crowds were good for day 2, but star acts Geraldine Brooks and Peter Carey attracted much greater numbers to the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens in Adelaide on Tuesday 4 March – again in spite of the extreme heat as temperatures hovered around 35 degrees.  The heat wasn’t sufficient to dull the enthusiasm of autograph-hunters, who formed snaking queues in the blaring sun to have their newly-purchased books signed.  Thank god for the water spray man who kept me cool with a well-aimed shot down the back of my shirt.

Peter Carey seems to be enjoying himself in Adelaide with numerous references to wine drinking during the official launch of his new book, His Illegal Self, published by Random House.  Carey is very proud of Random House’s efforts in Australia remarking that the physical appearance of his new book is the most beautiful of all editions released worldwide.  He also praised the publishing house’s innovative marketing methods on the World Wide Web and through other unconventional means.

His Illegal Self is the story of Che. Raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. Yearning for his famous outlaw parents, he takes hope from his long-haired teenage neighbour who predicts that: ‘They will come for you, man’.

Soon Che too is an outlaw, fleeing down subways, abandoning seedy motels at night.  He is pitched into a journey that leads him to a hippy commune in the jungle of tropical Queensland. Here he slowly, bravely, confronts his life, learning that nothing is what it seems.

Carey read to the crowd one of the more ‘serious’ passages of the book, when Che arrives in Queensland, but promised that the book contains humour and fun as well.

In the western tent, Australian expatriate author Geraldine Brooks was launching her new book, People of the Book.  Brooks enjoyed significant success with her second novel, March, in 2005 winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

People of the Book crosses continents and centuries to bring stories of hope amidst darkness, compassion amidst cruelty, all bound together by the discoveries made by a young Australian woman restoring an ancient Hebrew book. When Hanna Heath gets a call in the middle of the night in her Sydney home about a precious medieval manuscript that has been recovered from the smouldering ruins of war–torn Sarajevo, she knows she is on the brink of the experience of a lifetime. A renowned book conservator, she must now make her way to Bosnia to start work on restoring the Sarajevo Haggadah – a Jewish prayer book – to discover its secrets and piece together the story of its miraculous survival.

Brooks popularity was demonstrated by the long line of bookworms seeking her autograph – her queue was marginally longer than Peter Carey’s.

Premier Rann cops a spray at Adelaide Writers’ Week

After several weeks of mild weather, Adelaide has poured on the heat for this week’s Adelaide Writer’s Week, part of the wider Adelaide Festival of Arts. 

As temperatures hovered around 35 degrees, even shirt-and-tie-clad Premier Mike Rann welcomed a shot of cold water from the roving ‘sprayers’ employed to keep the crowd cool.  

In spite of the heat, today’s author events attracted good crowds late into the day, particularly David Malouf who filled the western tent and the shaded overflow areas.  Malouf spoke about his new book, The Complete Stories, joking with the crowd that these types of collections are normally released posthumously.

In the eastern tent, Deborah Robertson spoke about her most recent book, Careless, which won the 2007 Nita B. Kibble Awards and the 2006 Colin Roderick Award, and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and The Age Book of the Year.

Tomorrow’s schedule promises to provide the highlight of the week, with the much-awaited launch of both Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book and Peter Carey’s His Illegal Self.  The only problem will be choosing which event to attend, as curiously both are scheduled at the same time.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will get any respite from the weather – the forecast is for 34, 37, 37, 35 degrees over the final four days of the event…


Writers’ Week – Australia’s most anticipated literary festival. It is now nearly half a century since Writers’ Week first emerged as one of the highlights of the Adelaide Festival.

Since its beginnings in the 1960s, Adelaide Writers’ Week has come to be recognised and acclaimed, not only at home but around the world, for the distinction and diversity of its contributors.

Writers’ Week is also celebrated for creative encounters with splendid writing and eminent writers in the shade of tents and plane trees, in a park setting where an amiable late-summer mood prevails. Here readers mingle with some of the world’s most exciting literary figures, in a meeting place between a memorial garden for women and a colonial parade ground, on Kaurna country.

While 2008 Writers’ Week will feature writers from a number of nations around the world, this year we will hear rather more voices from the United States of America and from Scotland. Poets and novelists, historians and biographers, journalists, editors, writers of literary fiction and publishers will engage, as we have come to expect, in a free and easy exchange.

We look forward to catching up with you at one of the world’s most stimulating literary events.