03 December 2012

It was meant to be...

Penni Russon and Kate Constable. 
Before they knew each other, they each wrote a book about a boy named Trout.
After they knew each other they wrote a book together.
And last Friday, they flew up to Sydney together to go to the NSW Premier's Literary Awards  ceremony, because they each had a book nominated, in separate categories.
The odds weren't good for the running double - but some things are just meant to be...
WINNER: Patricia Wrightson Prize

It seems that war friends form lifetime bonds, except when class and/or race enter the equation. Such is the basis for this compelling story set in a small Australian country town. Manslaughter, cultural secrets and unrequited love give rise to the tensions and ill-feelings that linger into the second generation. When Sadie unwillingly moves with her mother to the little town of Boort, the thirteen-year-old finds herself in conversation with a crow who embroils her in a mystery from her family's past. When she time-slips into the body of her namesake of two generations ago she is caught up in a class-race conflict. Constable has cleverly let Sadie participate in her past history without changing it, which allows her to be the keeper of an enormous and troubling secret in her own time. Constable's characters are beautifully rounded and real, from the family in the past to old Auntie Lily, an Aboriginal elder.

This is a multi-layered story, beautifully told, with themes interwoven through three generations; the prejudices and mores of the 1970s persist into the twenty-first century with black-white friendships frowned upon in both parents and children. The Indigenous connection to the land is a major theme, with a sacred circle of stones being exposed when drought causes the dam water to recede and the old town to be revealed. As in life, sport becomes the common bond as truths win out and secrets are fought for and kept. At the start of each chapter a small black crow sits on the black number while the cover illustration signals the stark ravages of drought with a large crow demanding attention as it does throughout the book.
Scoot over here to read the judges Comments on all the titles short-listed in the Patricia Wrightson Prize. 
WINNER: Ethel Turner Prize

Only Ever Always is a magnificent psychological puzzle that uses complex shifting points of view and a dreamscape of alternate realities. Moving between a crumbling dystopian cityscape and the recognisable realism of a suburban home in our own world, this complex and challenging narrative employs the doubles motif, contrasting Claire's grief with Clara's struggle to survive. These parallel realities dwell on the border of dreaming and awakening and are linked by an object of definition, the music box. Only Ever Always interrogates the relationship between self and material objects and explores the question: 'Do we create our environment or does our environment create us?'
Only Ever Always is a philosophical enquiry into how we make sense of ourselves and our own values. What matters? How do we define ourselves? It challenges the reader to ponder what is real - the dream or the dreamer? Who occupies the space between the real and the imagined?
Slip over here to read the judges comments on all the titles short-listed for the Ethel Turner Prize.
Huge congratulations, Penni and Kate!
Thank you for being such inspiring writers and such fabulous women to work with - separately and together!
Congratulations also to the other winners , and to everyone who was shortlisted

1 comment:

A latte beckons said...

Aw, jeez! Thank you Onions, that is very sweet of you (and right back atcha)