I am travelling through the USA at the moment and struggling to keep up with the blogging but here is some not very up to date, yet still newsworthy details on recent Australian literary awards. At the moment I am enjoying the Californian coastline, visiting Boston, including the witchy Salem, New York City, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Jackson MS, New Orleans, then home! We are having fun, catching up with friends, eating too much and enjoying exploring the varied and interesting place that is the USA. I’ll do a holiday blog soon – but enough of that – here is the award news!

First up is the Miles Franklin Award, one of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards, ‘established through the will of writer Stella Miles Franklin, best known for her novel My Brilliant Career.’ The Miles Franklin Award is presented each year to a novel of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.

Then we have the inaugural Russell Prize for Humour Writing at the State Library of NSW on the 25th June, 2015. Light or dark, fun or farce – published works of fiction, memoir, poetry and verse by Australian writers were considered for the biennial $10,000 prize, with entries now open. The Prize has been made possible by the generous bequest of the late Peter Wentworth Russell, a farmer, businessman and passionate reader. Administered and presented by the State Library of NSW on behalf of the estate, the prize aims to celebrate, recognise and encourage humour writing, and to promote interest in this genre.

2015 Miles Franklin Award

23rd June: The 2015 Miles Franklin Award was awarded to Sofie Laguna for The Eye of the Sheep (Allen & Unwin), a wonderful book reviewed here on Welcome to my Library by my fellow reviewer Angela Long. Read her review HERE.

Commenting on behalf of the judging panel, State Library of New South Wales Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, commented that ‘the power of this finely crafted novel lies in its raw, high-energy, coruscating language which is the world of young Jimmy Flick, who sees everything. But his manic x-ray perceptions don’t correspond with the way others see his world. His older brother understands him some of the time, and his mother almost all of the time, but other people, including his violent father, just see him as difficult. Weathering successive waves of domestic violence, Jimmy navigates his way through the shoals of alcohol-abuse, illness and tragedy that swamp his parents, and ultimately reaches the possibility of equanimity. The Eye of the Sheep is an extraordinary novel about love and anger, and how sometimes there is little between them.’


Congratulations to Sofie Laguna for the win! I am sure the $60,000 prize will help support this talented author in her writing career. And what a writing career! Sofie is an accomplished and award-winning writer of children’s chapter books, picture books, adult fiction and plays. Read more about Sofie Laguna HERE. 

The other shortlisted authors (who each receive a $5000 prize) are as follows:

The Russell Prize for Humour Writing

25th June: The biennial $10,000 2015 Russell Prize for Humour Writing was awarded to Bernard Cohen for The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies (HarperCollins Publishers), selected from a diverse field of 57 entries.

Bernard Cohen

The novel is set in Canberra where a soon-to-be-elected prime minister invokes the spirit of Sir Robert Menzies. Increasingly discontented with his role as mere nostalgic symbol, Menzies makes a run for it and with much hilarity the Antibiographer seizes the opportunity to document the most significant untold story in Australian political history, and save his career!

The Judges – Dr Kathryn Heyman, Paula Tierney and James Tierney – praised the “biting wit” of the novel and its “ambitious themes, ridicule and craft.” At rimes a reader might be encountering a novel, a biography, a political satire or the wittiest PhD exegesis there’s ever been,” the judges reported.

Chair judge Kathryn Heyman observed: “Bursting with many perfectly choreographed moments, the judges felt that Cohen perfectly captured the states of nervy restlessness in the Australian psyche, while possessing the grace of great fiction.”

NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Alex Byrne added: “Humour writing is not an easy genre to master, and Bernard Cohen and his fellow shortlisted authors have shown how humour is not only there to entertain us but to, perhaps more importantly, raise and promote important discussions about our contemporary culture.”

The other shortlisted titles:

  • A Short History of Stupid, The decline of reason and why public debate makes us want to scream, Helen Razer & Bernard Keane (Allen & Unwin)
  • Boomer & Me, A Memoir of Motherhood, and Asperger’s, Jo Case (Hardie Grant Books)
  • I, Migrant, A comedian’s journey from Karachi to the outback, Sami Shah (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Full Ridiculous, Mark Lamprell (Text Publishing)
  • The Wife Drought, Why women need wives, and men need lives, Annabel Crabb (Random House Australia)

For more information on the Russell Prize for Humour Writing, please the State Library of NSW website 


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