Shortly after gaining office, Campbell Newman scrapped the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards in a move that has been widely reported and condemned. The paltry savings of $244,000 is a drop in the ocean of the state’s budget and seemed more like an idealogical stance than a high priority savings measure.
However, the literary community in Brisbane were quick to mobilise. They have established a successful pozible campaign, gained agreement from the UQ Press to continue publishing the winners of the Manuscript and David Unaipon awards, and the Courier Mail has stepped in to sponsor the People’s Choice Award. In the fiction category, the nominees are:
Given his well-known name, I think it will be difficult for anybody to beat Nick Earls on this one. When I read The Fix last year, it was my first Nick Earls book since his popular debut Zigzag Street, if you discount a short story that appeared in Griffith Review 30: Annual Fiction Edition (incidentally, this short story also appears in Earls’ new collection, Welcome to Normal). I thoroughly enjoyed The Fix, it moves at a sharp and humorous pace, and the constant references to familiar localities in Brisbane and the Gold Coast warmed my ex-Brisvegas heart. However, this is not my pick for people’s choice.
I haven’t read Closer to Stone, so clearly my pick is The Ottoman Motel, by Christopher Currie. Chris blogs at Furious Horses and this was his debut novel. It tells the story of a young boy visiting a small coastal town, the likes of which are dotted all along the Pacific Highway in the Northern Rivers area of NSW. His parents go missing, and this is a moving story of loss with a pervading sense of dread that keeps you reading to the end. The book received some negative reviews from people expecting some kind of murder mystery, but I feel that’s a matter of misplaced expectations from the reviewer, not a reflection on the book itself.
This isn’t a review so I won’t go any further. My choice for people’s choice is The Ottoman Motel. Votes close on 31st August 2012, so go ahead and vote now.