Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright wins 2014 The Stella Prize

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney


The winner of the Stella Prize, the major new award for Australian women’s writing, receives $50,000 in prize money. This is the first time a nonfiction work has won the Stella Prize. Last year’s inaugural winner was Carrie Tiffany for her novel Mateship with Birds.
Of the winning book, Kerryn Goldsworthy, chair of the 2014 Stella Prize judging panel, says:
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka sheds a bright new light on a dark old Australian story. In her account of the Eureka Stockade and the years leading up to it, historian Clare Wright revisits that well-trodden territory from an entirely new perspective, unearthing images, portraits and stories of the women of 1850s Ballarat and the parts they played not only in its society but also in its public life, as they ran newspapers, theatres and hotels with energy and confidence.
“A rare combination of true scholarship with a warmly engaging narrative voice, along with a wealth of detail about individual characters and daily life on the goldfields, makes this book compulsively readable.”
On winning the Stella Prize, Clare Wright says:
“No one writes books to win prizes, but holy flip it feels astonishingly good to have won the Stella. Of all the prizes on offer, I reckon this one is the sweetest of all. The Stella Prize is like the Brownlow Medal of the literary world: all muscle and spine, with a touch of glamour. Without fail, the books on the 2014 Stella short and long lists demonstrate astonishing grunt, tenacity, courage, grace, vision, skill and sheer determination to reveal the world at its potential fairest. The Stella helps to keep the playing field at its level best. I am honoured to be in the company of these brilliant authors.
“My thanks to the Stella judges, the Stella board, the many donors and sponsors who make this a truly grassroots award, my family for their constant love and support in the face of absence and Eureka madness, and to my magnificent publishers, Text Publishing, for taking the plunge on a big book of historical nonfiction about a bunch of noisy sheilas getting up to no good on the nineteenth-century frontier.”
The 2014 Stella Prize was awarded at an event in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday 29 April. The winner received $50,000 and each of the other shortlistees received $2000, courtesy of the Nelson Meers Foundation.
At the award night, Clare Wright announced that she would donate10% of the prize money to be split between two organisations close to her heart:
“The first is the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), who work at a community level to raise literacy levels and close the gap in educational outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. $2500 will allow the ILF to get 20 early literacy kits in the Book Buzz project into the hands of families (mothers, babies and toddlers) in the family engagement program that is run in Alice Springs through the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.
“The second is my local high school, whose dedicated teachers work within the constraints of an under-funded public system to give all our kids the benefits of the free, secular education that is their birthright in a democratic nation. I will donate $2500 to Northcote High School, to be held in trust to fund an annual academic award, the Eureka Prize for Women’s History.”
Clare Wright is an historian who has worked as a political speechwriter, university lecturer, historical consultant, and radio and television broadcaster. Her first book, Beyond the Ladies Lounge: Australia’s Female Publicans, garnered both critical and popular acclaim. The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, her second book, took her ten years to research and write. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and three children.
The Stella Prize is open to works of both fiction and nonfiction. From more than 160 entries, this year’s Stella Prize judges – critic and writer Kerryn Goldsworthy (chair); journalist and broadcaster Annabel Crabb; author and academic Brenda Walker; bookseller Fiona Stager; and writer and lecturerTony Birch – selected a longlist of twelve books, which they then narrowed down to a shortlist of six. View the lists below.

The paperback edition is due out from 8 May 2014.
Earn Double Reward Points on this book during May (and earn your $10 voucher faster).

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Hannah Kent
Anna Krien
Fiona McFarlane
Kristina Olsson
Alexis Wright
Clare Wright


Debra Adelaide
Gabrielle Carey
Melissa Lucashenko
Anne Summers
Helen Trinca
Evie Wyld

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


After Darkness by Christine Piper at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney

AFTER DARKNESS by Christine Piper
WINNER – The 2014 Australian/Vogel's Literary Award

The Vogel is always an interesting award, going as it does to an unpublished manuscript by a writer under 35. Over its 30-something years, it has had its share of controversy (The Hand that Signed the Paper, anyone?) and launched a number of important authors (hello Tim Winton/Kate Grenville/Gillian Mears!). Changes in the award structure a few years ago meant the book was published and released the day after the announcement of the winning story. Or, if you are lucky enough to attend the announcement ceremony, the showbag you leave with contains a couple of boxes of Vogel's breakfast cereals, and a copy of the winning book. So, I went home on Tuesday night and thought I'd better have a look - and four hours later had to put it down half-finished to be resumed and greedily finished the next day.

Tomakazu Ibaraki is the main character. The story starts in 1942 as he is on his way to an internment camp in South Australia. He had been working as a doctor in Broome, before being detained and sent to Loveday camp where a number of resident Japanese nationals (as distinct from prisoners-of-war) are interned. Many of the men had lived and worked in Australia for years, but some of them are locked up merely for having a Japanese parent, even though they are Australian-born and bred, and it is the anger these men feel at being treated as enemy aliens that is one of the most interesting themes of the book. As the reserved Tomakazu struggles to fit in, it becomes apparent that he is suffering from a sadness and guilt that predates his arrival in Broome in 1938. The novel moves in time, from 1942 back to 1938 and also 1934, when as a new medical intern Tomakazu is offered the chance to pursue microbiology research at the Army Medical College. Only gradually does he learn what the aim of the research truly is, and the internal conflict between his moral integrity and the need to retain honour by keeping to his commitment of confidentiality creates insurmountable difficulties that affect the rest of his life choices.

After Darkness is a compelling and finely written book. It reveals a little-known aspect of World War II history through a character who has not been able to reconcile societal expectations and personal experience. I truly think Christine Piper is an author to watch, and I won’t be surprised if in years to come her name is in the list of great Australian authors launched by the Vogel Award.

Lindy Jones

‘A brave, profound meditation on identity, trauma, loss and courage… reminds us that there are two sides to every war and that history never ceases to be written… A novel that demands its place alongside Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Mark Dapin’s Spirit House.’ – Stephen Romei, The Australian


Christine Piper's short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found in Trees and Other Stories. She was the 2013 Alice Hayes writing fellow at Ragdale in the United States. She has studied creative writing at Macquarie University, the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Technology, Sydney, where she wrote a version of this novel as part of her doctoral degree. She has also worked as a magazine editor and writer for more than a decade.

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Miles Franklin 2014 Longlist

Australia’s most prestigious literary award was established through the will of the writer Stella Miles Franklin, best known for her novel My Brilliant Career. The bequest came as a surprise to the literary world as Franklin had told nobody – save her trustees – of her plans.

Miles Franklin had first-hand experience of the struggle to make a living as a writer and was herself the beneficiary of two literary prizes. She was also extremely conscious of the importance of fostering a uniquely Australian literature. She wrote,

"Without an indigenous literature,
people can remain alien in their own soil."

Accordingly, the Award is presented each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.

The Miles Franklin was first awarded in 1957. Since then, the annual announcement of the winner has become an event anticipated and discussed throughout Australia and around the world.

The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

Mullumbimby by Melissa LucashenkoThe Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

 Belomor by Nicolas RothwellGame by Trevor Shearston

My Beautiful Enemy by Cory TaylorEyrie by Tim Winton

The Swan Book by Alexis WrightAll the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ April 2014

Have you stumbled across archaeologist Neil Oliver talking about the Vikings on SBS? Well I’m sure you have because he is that nice man who often fronts up on Coast. But this is not about those rough Vikings marauding and killing but about the traders who journeyed, not only to Ireland and England but also down the Russian rivers to Constantinople! Very interesting. A friend spent some happy time browsing in Abbey’s recently and she happened to come home with Ibn Fadlan and the Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North.  It turns out in 922 AD Ibn Fadlan encountered Vikings on the Volga River and is one of several Arab travellers who left meticulous descriptions of these encounters. Do click on this title... as it is a Penguin Classic it is only $9.95. I was happy to see her arrive home with three very different books – the result of browsing. Checking the database is convenient and fairly quick but peeping inside the covers of books with intriguing titles is even more fun.

Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far NorthPlain Tales from the Raj: Images of British India in the 20th CenturyKipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard KiplingAshoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor

My friend also brought home yet another book by Charles Allen, historian and travel writer, whose most famous book is Plain Tales from the Raj, which used to be read on ABC Radio. He also wrote the definitive biography Kipling Sahib. This latest one is called Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor. British Orientalists have spent many years researching old monuments to discover more about Ashoka who was the first ruler of all India, who transformed Buddhism from a minor sect to a World Religion only to be forgotten for two thousand years.

The Sea: A Cultural HistoryThe Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

Her third book was The Sea: A Cultural History by John Mack who uses history, maritime archaeology, art history, biography and excepts from famous writers. He is fascinated by all aspects of the society of the sea – how seamen behave differently ashore, use different words for the same things, how the sea changes and what it means to us. (Ed: See also The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln Paine)

My friend lives in the country and does use the internet but she counts a visit to Abbeys as one of the highlights in any trip to town.

War Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins at $9.95 each have been a huge success – for everyone. It is so good to see certain backlist titles racing to the fore again and you certainly can’t complain that books are too expensive. Another new series is now coming out featuring military stories. They will have a khaki cover and most of the authors are Australian. The titles are Anzac to Amiens by C.E.W,.Bean, An Anzac’s Story by Roy Kyle, Patsy Adam-Smith’s The Anzacs, Australia in Arms by Phillip Schuler, Flesh in Armour by Leonard Mann, Generals Die in Bed by Charles Yale Harrison, Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves, The Middle Parts of Fortune by Frederic Manning, Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger and The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry edited by George Walter. War Popular Penguins are all only $9.95.

The LuminariesTracks

On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads

I have finally finished reading Eleanor Catton’s book The Luminaries which won the 2013 Man-Booker Prize. 832 pages means I don’t rush into it but this has proved to be a book well worth the time and one ready to be read again soon after. Enjoy the language as well as the story, which as you may know is set on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s South Island during the Gold Rushes of the 1850’s. There is a most interesting review of this book by Julian Novitz in the Sydney Review of Books. Did you realise that each succeeding chapter is half the size of the previous chapter? I'd noticed this and wondered if the author was running out of steam or had simply realised that people like to get to the end!

It was a matter of coincidence that I have read the film-tie in edition of Robyn Davidson’s Tracks and Tim Cope’s On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through The Land of the Nomads. Two entirely different books: one very slender and one very thick, but both classic travel writing from a young Australian. Both highly recommended. I suspect I had not read Tracks previously but I have sold so many copies over the years I had begun to think I had read it!

Some nice recent news includes awards for Frank Moorhouse for Lifetime Achievement in Literature and the Patrick White Award to Louis Nowra for significant but inadequately recognised contribution to Australian literature. Bravo. Well deserved.

Keep well.


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers