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2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing Shortlist Announcement

2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing Shortlist Announcement

The State Library of NSW has recently announced the shortlist for their biannual humour prize which I did enter since I’ve been told by many that Destination Dachshund is humorous at times. True story. But obviously not funny enough – as I am not shortlisted. Ha! My husband tells me I’m not that funny all the time but he is so wrong. The judges picked very well though – the books listed below are all winners – and if you like a bit of humour in your books then check them out.

DD on its way to the State Library to enter the awards!

I am pleased to see Rosie Waterland’s memoir ‘The Anti-Cool Girl’ on the list. She is hilarious but had a tough year so hopefully this shortlisting lifts her spirits.

Congratulations to all shortlisted authors.

Winner to be announced at the State Library on 8 June 2017.

  • Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure by Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen is the fifth volume detailing the farcical adventures of a Queensland academic who finds himself holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate. How this eventuated is as much a mystery to Senator Everest as it is to everyone else. He is still obsessed with his penis, as his life and career continue to drag him through a series of preposterous adventures.True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia — Volume 2 by David Hunt
  • True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia — Volume 2 by David Hunt is the sequel to Girt, David Hunt’s first history, which told the story of the white settlement of Australia up until the rule of Governor Macquarie. True Girt continues the story, unpicking our national myths about peaceful settlement and universal progress as he details the settlement of Van Diemen’s Land, Victoria and the extension of settlement in NSW — with occasional sideswipes at South Australia.
  • A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt contains no appliances that heat bread on the surface of the red planet. What it does contain, however, is Blake Carter, star agent for the Planetary Bureau of Investigation. Blake is having a very bad day, with a missing daughter, a cyborg partner, and the world domination plans of Bartholomew Badde. What ensues is a mad plummet down a hill of ridiculousness defying not just the laws of physics but often those of sanity as well.
  • Error Australia by Ben Pobjie uses his skills at recapping reality television with precise hilarity, by recapping the ultimate Australian reality show: Australia itself. In his hilarious Error Australis, the comedian and TV columnist takes us from the initial cooling of this simple rock to the modern developments that place it so significantly in a far-flung corner of the world. This is history as farce, or rather it’s about finding that reality has been farce all along.
  • Quicksand by Steve Toltz is the much-anticipated second novel, whose debut of A Fraction of the Whole, garnered rave reviews internationally when it was published several years ago. Indeed, Quicksand owes much to its epic predecessor as its genesis springs from material cut from the earlier novel. The story — narrated by Liam, an aspiring writer-turned-policeman — chronicles the life of his friend Aldo Benjamin, an eternally optimistic ‘born loser’.
  • The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland is a memoir about a childhood that by most standards would be considered disturbing. The story starts before Rosie was born and takes us through her first twenty-eight years which are packed with most varieties of trauma: both the author’s parents were addicts, she witnessed her mother trying to commit suicide, there were narrow escapes from drug-dealers and dodgy boyfriends, she was severely bullied at school — and yet, Rosie Waterland makes us laugh.
2016 Koala Awards: (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) #mustread list of great Aussie children’s books! #AusLitLove

2016 Koala Awards: (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) #mustread list of great Aussie children’s books! #AusLitLove

I’ve just come across The Koala Awards (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards). Their main goal: ‘KOALA seeks to provide children a voice within the general Australian children’s book industry.’ How good is that? The winners are announced on Thursday, 3rd November, 2016 at Blackheath Public School, NSW. Good luck to all those nominated!

KOALA is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers (teacher/librarians, public librarians, teachers, publishers and other supporters of children’s literature). Every year, young readers from all over New South Wales judge their very own literary awards. By voting in the KOALA awards they can reward the Australian children’s books that have most inspired, amused, terrified, enlightened and engaged them.

“Of all the awards, the ones that kids choose themselves always mean the most. But they are also a great way to show kids that what THEY love is important.” Jackie French

Koala Awards 2016 shortlist 

For all those people out there looking for a great read for their children.

ScreenshotKoala 2016 Shortlist+2016-06-22+12.41.29




Book Review: Panthers and The Museum of Fire by Jen Craig

Book Review: Panthers and The Museum of Fire by Jen Craig

Longlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize, Panthers & The Museum of Fire by fiction writer, Jen Craig, made an impression on reviewer Angela Long. Read on…

  • PanthersTitle: Panthers & the Museum of Fire
  • Author: Jen Craig
  • Publisher: Spineless Wonders

Angela’s Review: As I started to read this novella I knew immediately that I was reading a unique work. From the opening paragraphs the reader is destabilised, never quite sure of the purpose of the writer. There are no classic plot points and yet I was compelled to continue, barely putting it down until I was finished. This could have been because there are no chapter breaks, in fact no breaks at all; or it could have been because I was intrigued as to where it was going. Written entirely as a stream of consciousness, every paragraph seamlessly entwined the past, present and future, twisting and turning and doubling back to where it started.

Written with unselfconscious irony, Jen Craig ‘s protagonist is indeed Jen Craig and it is this same Jen Craig who sets out to return a manuscript called Panthers and The Museum of Fire, written by the recently cremated Sarah, who may, or may not—depending on where you are in the journey—be an old friend from school, or her only friend. It is this dualism of character and story that parallels the lives of Jen and Sarah and sets up the premise of an unreliable narrator.

This is an exploration of the mind and the intricate connections that lead us from one place to another. As Jen walks the manuscript from Glebe to a café in Crown Street Sydney, we enter into a journey of self-discovery; a journey that is indulgent and neurotic, that focuses on everything and nothing at the same time; mirroring the manuscript that Sarah has written.

While Jen walks we share her most private thoughts. We learn about her anorexia, how she ironically shared the name Jenny Craig with a multi-national dieting company and the intimacy that she wasn’t cured of anorexia, she simply killed the anorectic inside her. Her foray into religion and its consuming nature. The vagaries of memory and time and place. Truth and lies. Revelations on friendships. Epiphanies on writing. Each thought tangled into the next and creating momentary clarity for the protagonist, who remembered ‘the euphoria of believing that, with belief, I had become the protagonist of a story.’ and yet the story is incidental to the reflection.

As the tale unfolds Jen reveals Sarah as her alter-ego. Friends at school, Jen declares that they were nothing alike. She was a ‘nobody from nowhere … they were powerful’; Sarah’s family drove foreign cars, Jen’s a Ford; one mother was elegant the other grey. We learn of Jen’s anorexia as Jen learns of Sarah’s obesity; Jen mourns her years of wrangling with words to produce a novel and yet Sarah, who had little interest in writing, hides herself in a hole of a place for a year or two to produce a manuscript of such significance. And yet despite their differences, they are one and the same both socially inept, both devoid of close relationships, both wanting to be something and facing the fear of being a fool.

Like a Escher drawing there seems to be no beginning and no end, the entire work an illusion leaving the reader with nothing more than what you started;

‘The whole time you were reading, you were also waiting. As soon as you started the manuscript, you would find yourself waiting for it to start, to really start.’

And yet even as I write this I feel drawn to begin again in an attempt to find what I know isn’t there.

This is by no means an easy read, it’s ironic and intelligent; the sentences are long and the punctuation intense and above all it will make you down right annoyed at its sheer brilliance.

Link to Book trailer

Buy Here: Australian Short Stories

AWW2016This book has been read and reviewed by Angela Long for Welcome to my Library for the 2016 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

For more information please see their website ‘Supporting and promoting books by Australian women’

2016 #PremiersLitAwards- ‘..a celebration of artists and artistry’

2016 #PremiersLitAwards- ‘..a celebration of artists and artistry’

Oh, what a night was had at the announcement of the 2016 Premier’s Literary Awards at the historic State Library of NSW last night! Moving, inspiring, entertaining with some of the most amusing speeches I have ever heard at a literary award ceremony – this was an epic night of literary celebration and I was glad I didn’t miss it. Thank you for the invite State Library of NSW.

There was quite a buzz in the room as we waited for the night to begin. Not only were the excited and talented award nominees gathered, including Magda Szubanski and James Bradley, but also Thomas Keneally and Wesley Enoch, plus many more. And, of course, The Honourable Mike Baird, Premier of NSW was in attendance since he had to be, but he certainly looked very happy to be there.

Amongst the crowd there were two other VIP’s, me – and Angela Long, my fellow contributor at Welcome to My Library. We sat in the 3rd row, tweeting and taking notes to record some of the nights events. We tried to look very busy and important. We have decided we helped the night trend on Twitter. Go #PremiersLitAwards !!

The night began with the sounds of the didgeridoo from Matthew Doyle from the Gadigal people, the original custodians of the land, followed by the Welcome to Country.

Alex Byrne, the NSW State Librarian, then began the proceedings, followed by an inspiring speech by Wesley Enoch who described the awards as ‘a celebration of artists and artistry.’ Wesley talked of history, culture, and of what came before on the land that a city now sits. He eloquently spoke of the recognition of art, and how our ancestry ‘is a complex collection of stories..‘ and when we ‘..connect to our history we access a deeper cultural purpose.

The engaging Jennifer Byrne, journalist and host of ABC’s The Book Club, then took to the stage as MC and announced the first prize. The awards presentation began with gusto with Osamah Sami, the winner of the Multicultural NSW Award for his book, Good Muslim Boy. He was an exuberant winner, hilariously entertaining the audience for such a lengthy acceptance speech that even veteran TV host Jennifer Byrne could not make him budge.

When Osamah finally left the stage (to much applause), the night continued on with the inaugural Indigenous Writer’s Prize. Premier Mike Baird welcomed the long overdue award, commenting ‘..our history is not complete without their stories.’

Each speech of the night, from the funny Angus Cerini, to the moving acceptance speech by Merlinda Bobis, the acknowledgement of Dr. Rosie Scott AM with the 2016 Special Award, to Magda Szubanski walking to accept the award for Reckoning: A Memoir while talking to her 92 year-old mother on the phone. Mike Baird kindly held her phone up so Magda’s mother could listen to her wonderful acceptance speech. Magda described her book as ‘an attempt to bring together a sense of family.’

Towards the end, the Book of the Year was awarded to Bruce Pascoe for Dark Emu. Not only did he want go and have a beer afterwards, but he talked of the many people in the room, and that we bring our story with us. ‘I want to hear your story,’ he commented, ‘because I would be spellbound.’

Photos Angela Long
Photos Angela Long

Categories and winners:

  • Book of the Year ($10,000)
    Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)
  • Christina Stead Prize for Fiction ($40,000)
    Locust Girl. A Lovesong, Merlinda Bobis (Spinifex Press)
  • UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing ($5,000 – sponsored by UTS)
    An Astronaut’s Life, Sonja Dechian (Text Publishing)
  • Douglas Stewart Prize for Non‐fiction ($40,000)
    Reckoning: A Memoir, Magda Szubanski (Text Publishing)
  • Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry ($30,000)
    brush, Joanne Burns (Giramondo)
  • Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000)
    Teacup, Rebecca Young & Matt Ottley (Scholastic Australia)
  • Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature ($30,000)
    Laurinda, Alice Pung (Black Inc.)
  • Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting ($30,000)
    The Bleeding Tree, Angus Cerini (Currency Press in association with Griffin Theatre Company)
  • Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting ($30,000)
    Deadline Gallipoli, Episode 4: “The Letter”, Cate Shortland (Matchbox Pictures)
  • Multicultural NSW Award ($20,000)
    Good Muslim Boy, Osamah Sami (Hardie Grant Books)
  • Indigenous Writers Prize ($30,000) (NEW PRIZE)
    Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books) AND Heat and Light, Ellen van Neerven (University of Queensland Press)
  • Special Award ($10,000)
    Dr Rosie Scott AM
  • People’s Choice Award
    The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)
PLA Winners
2016 Premier’s Literary Award Winners Photo Angela Long


#Stella16 Book Review: Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

#Stella16 Book Review: Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

Following is Angela Long’s review of the 6th and final book shortlisted in the The Stella Prize 2016. 

Fiona WrightTitle: Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger
Author: Fiona Wright
Publisher: Giramondo Publishing 2015

Angela’s Review: Eating, the consumption of food, should be a guilt free process, but in today’s western society, few people—men or women—could say they have never had guilt, obsession or dietary restraint associated with eating. We live in a culture where food messages are constantly fed to us. Where the latest fad diet, super-food or reality TV show, pinpoints our focus on the relationship we have with the primary substance that gives us life.

In her series of ten essays, Fiona Wright explores and reflects on her personal experiences with hunger, starvation and anorexia. Each essay deals with an aspect of her journey, including the physical and psychological signs and effects as well as the societal values that define and segregate. Although this is not a memoir the essays are intensely personal; facts and figures sitting in the shadow of the reflections and intimate understanding that makes this such a readable piece of writing.

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#TheStellaPrize Book Review: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

#TheStellaPrize Book Review: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Following is Angela Long’s review of the 5th book shortlisted in the The Stella Prize 2016.

CHarlotte WoodTitle: The Natural Way of Things
Author: Charlotte Wood
Publisher: Allen and Unwin 2015

Angela’s Review: Initially inspired to write a novel based on the internment of young women at the ‘Hay Institution for Girls’, Charlotte Wood found her writing stalled. It was at this point she realised there was a far greater story that needed to be told. The work born from that realisation is a timely piece that questions the contemporary ideals of misogyny, gender values, human rights and corporate power.

When ten women wake imprisoned in a heavily secured property in the Australian outback, they have no idea why they are there, what binds them together. They’ve committed no crime, no act of violence or theft, they’re not guilty of sedition or terrorism. Dehumanised—chained together, heads shaved, clothes replaced by shapeless uniforms—they are forced into hard labour, paralleling the Hay institution and WWII concentration camps. These women have no rights, their lives have been taken outside the careful control of society privilege; their abandonment made worse by the knowledge that it was their trusted loved ones who have been complicit in their incarceration.

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#TheStellaPrize Book Review: The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau

#TheStellaPrize Book Review: The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau

Here is Angela Long’s review of the 4th book shortlisted in the The Stella Prize 2016. 

The World without usTitle: The World Without Us
Author: Mireille Juchau
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 2015

Angela’s ReviewThe World Without Us by Mireille Juchau is a multi faceted work about loss and grief; intimacy and communication; but above all—survival.

‘They’ve already survived the indescribable: named the stars to distract a sister, stood very still as her coffin hovered. They’d lost Pip and a fellow feeling. They’d lost the mother who’d once been fearless.’

After the death of their youngest daughter Pip, each member of the Müller family is trying to manage their loss. Meg, now the youngest, surrounds herself with music and copious drawings of the feelings she cannot articulate. The eldest daughter Tess refuses to talk, not uttering a sound since Pip died. Their father Stefan finds distraction in the bottom of a bottle and their mother Evangeline has stopped painting and withdrawn from her family. It is the silence, the inability to communicate, that creates the most damage. Tess has chosen to remain mute, a punishment to herself and her family; but others are simply incapable of facing the memories that wound. Entombed in her own silent suffering, Evangeline deflects her pain in the arms of a lover. Scraps of memory collide in her scarred amnesic past and we glimpse her earlier years in the nearby 70’s commune ‘The Hive’ and sense there is a larger story looming.

Juchau’s poetic prose draws a beautiful interaction between place and character, one echoing the other, and forming a symbiotic relationship. Fighting to survive under the pressure of climate change and corporate inducements to allow gas seam fracking, the rural town of Bidgalong Valley is undergoing change. Like the failing hives they tend to, they are ‘creatures where they oughtn’t be, things obeying no natural order’. There is a parallel between the Müller family and the hives that are the backbone of their survival. Evangeline—the queen of Honig Farm—is the centre of the family’s life—‘For indeed the ascetic workers, her daughters, regard the queen above all as the organ of love, indispensable, certainly, and sacred, but in herself somewhat unconscious.’—without her the family will fail. On a larger scale the novel provides a window into a global perspective, where organised communities of bees and towns face collapse. They must persevere and adapt to their new environments or become extinct.

Although the storyline revolves around the Müller family tragedy, there are a tangle of subsequent plotlines. Like a piece of origami, the intricate folds combine to form an elaborate story. The mystery of the destruction of the hippie commune; the discovery of a skeleton in the shell of an old car wreck; and the historical and emotional bonds of various interconnecting figures. These are fragmented within the work, disclosing themselves along with the perspectives, discoveries and memories of each character. I often found myself backtracking to previous sections to ensure I hadn’t missed a key point, or misread a plotline.

The feeling created is one of disconnection, mirroring the novel, and enhanced by Juchau’s style, exposing only part of each character and leaving many details unknown. At the end many of these threads are left only partly resolved, the reader being denied the satisfying ‘tying up’ that we expect, and are given, in today’s modern novel. As such, I was forced to think a little more, form my own opinions and in the end was given the freedom to conjure my own conclusions to a complex piece of writing.

For more information please see the author’s website: Mireille Juchau


2016 Australian Women Writers Challenge: This book has been read and reviewed by Angela Long for Welcome to my Library for the 2016 Australian Women Writers challenge. For more information please see their website ‘Supporting and promoting books by Australian women’

Follow Angela on Twitter


Stay posted for the last two 2016 Stella Prize reviews from Angela: 

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright

Lisa 🙂

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