Fiona McFarlane has won the £30,000 International Dylan Thomas prize for her “deliciously unsettling” short story collection, The High Places.

Flitting across continents, eras, and genres, McFarlane’s 13 stories examine the spectrum of emotional life, with moments of uneasy anticipation, domestic contentment and ominous desperation. Praised as “deliciously unsettling” by the Observer, The High Places includes stories as varied as a scientist living on a small island with only a colossal squid called Mabel and the ghost of Charles Darwin for company, a middle aged couple going on a disastrous holiday with friends in Greece, and an Australian farmer who turns to Old Testament methods to relieve a debilitating drought.

[By Sian Cain; more at The Guardian, 11th May 2017]


2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize Winners Announced

Island magazine and key sponsor, Hobart Bookshop, have announced the winners of the 2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize today.

Celebrating Tasmania’s most acclaimed poet, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize was established in 1996 and has received generous support from Chris Pearce and Janet Grecian of the Hobart Bookshop since 1999.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – First Prize
‘In Memory’ by Stuart Cooke
Thanks to the support of Hobart Bookshop and literary journals around the country, Stuart has won $2000, publication in Island and annual subscriptions to Island, The Lifted Brow, Griffith Review, Overland, Southerly, Westerly, Review of Australian Fiction and Meanjin.

Stuart was born in 1980 and grew up in Sydney and Hobart. He travels often, particularly in Latin America, where he lived for a number of years. Widely published as a poet, critic and translator, he now lives on the Gold Coast and lectures at Griffith University. His new collection of poems, Opera, has just been published by Five Islands Press.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – Second Prize
‘Correspondence’ by Kate Wellington
Kate’s winning poem will be published in Island and she has also won annual subscriptions to Island, The Lifted Brow, Griffith Review, Overland, Southerly, Westerly, Review of Australian Fiction and Meanjin.

Kate is a teacher and poet. In 2014, she and her husband came to settle in Australia from the UK where she had been working in education and welfare. She lives on the Central Coast of NSW.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – Highly Commended
‘Along The Wire, In the Dark’ by Jill Jones
Jill has published nine full-length books, including Breaking the Days and The Beautiful Anxiety, which won the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. In 2014, she was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University and she is a member of the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize Judges
The judges for this year’s prize were Island Poetry Editor and award-winning poet, Sarah Holland-Batt; writer and editor, Kent MacCarter and contemporary poet, Michael Farrell.



Forever Young by Steven Carroll (HarperCollins Publishers)
The Life of Houses by Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)
The World Repair Video Game by David Ireland AM (Island Magazine Inc.)
Quicksand by Steve Toltz (Penguin)
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)


Net Needle by Robert Adamson (Black Inc.)
Cocky’s Joy by Michael Farrell (Giramondo)
The Hazards by Sarah Holland-Batt (University of Queensland Press)
Waiting for the Past by Les Murray AO (Black Inc.)
The Ladder by Simon West (Puncher & Wattmann)


Tom Roberts and the Art of Portraiture by Julie Cotter (Thames & Hudson)
On Stalin’s Team: the Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics by Sheila Fitzpatrick (Melbourne University Press)
Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather by Karen Lamb (University of Queensland Press)
Second Half First by Drusilla Modjeska (Penguin Random House Australia)
Island Home by Tim Winton (Penguin)

Prize for Australian History

The Story of Australia’s People. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia by Geoffrey Blainey AO (Penguin)
Let My People Go: the Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959–89 by Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland (Hybrid Publishers)
Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose by Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt (Wakefield Press )
Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life by Doug Morrissey (Connor Court Publishing)
The War with Germany: Volume III—The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War by Robert Stevenson (Oxford University Press)

Young Adult fiction

Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison (Magabala Books)
Illuminae: The Illuminae Files _01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s fiction

Adelaide’s Secret World by Elise Hurst (Allen & Unwin)
Sister Heart by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Hardie Grant Egmont)
The Greatest Gatsby : A Visual Book of Grammar by Tohby Riddle (Penguin Random House Australia)
Mr Huff by Anna Walker (Penguin Random House Australia)


1. To make something beautiful. Beauty does not have to mean prettiness, but can emerge from the scope of one’s imagination, the precision of one’s words, the steadiness and honesty of one’s gaze.

2. To make something truthful. ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’

3. To make use of what you have and who you are. Even a limited talent brings an obligation to explore it, develop it, exercise it, be grateful for it.

4. To make, at all. To create is to defy emptiness. It is generous, it affirms. To make is to add to the world, not subtract from it. It enlarges, does not diminish.

5. Because as Iris Murdoch said, paying attention is a moral act. To write truthfully is to honour the luck and the intricate detail of being alive.


‘Reasons to write’ is part of Charlotte Wood’s acceptance speech (19th April, 2016), on winning the 2016 Stella Prize literary award – celebrating women’s writing – with her novel The Natural Way of Things.


The winner of the 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award, who will receive $60,000 in prize money for his or her novel, will be announced at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival on August 26.


Peggy Frew – Hope Farm

Myfanwy Jones – Leap

AS Patric – Black Rock White City

Lucy Treloar – Salt Creek

Charlotte Wood – The Natural Way of Things

Read more at Skynews, 19th August 2016

Fragments … 13th Jan 2015

LIT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2015 … ArtsHub takes a peek behind the covers of some of the most anticipated titles of 2015.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT CLASS IN AUSTRALIA is the title of a thoughtful, compassionate piece by Tim Winton published in ‘The Monthly’. The essay’s thirteen months old now (I missed it at the time) and is well worth the read. ‘In 2010, when my face appeared on a postage stamp, I had to submit to the good-humoured sledging of relatives at pains to restrain their pride. In my family, teasing is a blood sport and a measure of affection, so I copped it with pleasure. I enjoyed their refusal to seem impressed. Of course, there were lots of jokes about having to lick the back of my head. But at certain moments it was painful to be reminded that some of them could moisten the stamp but not write the letter it was supposed to send on its way. These are the family members who only follow my stories in audio format – not because they’re too busy to be bothered with books but because they are functionally illiterate. Their curtailed educations, which have sorely constrained their adult lives, were not a manifestation of character. They were outcomes of class. When I’m with those of my friends who are privately educated, I can’t help but be mindful, now and then, of those intimate and often shameful family constraints. Prosperous Australians, even those who’ve snuck under the wire like myself, forget so easily that others are still living over-determined lives in another economy altogether. They aren’t all faceless abstractions, either. Many of them are old neighbours, school friends, relatives, and often they live close by, in the same postcode as you.’

LAUNCH OF ‘TRANSPORTATION‘, Thursday 15th January 2015 at Fullers Bookshop, Hobart, 5.30pm. A year after the notion of an international literary exchange was mooted, and high calibre short stories from two disparate yet similar places, an active online presence and a book were discussed, Transportation, islands and cities, is launching at Fullers Bookshop, 5.30 this Thursday night. The book features some of the best new writing from London and Tasmania, short stories, many voices, covering wide range of styles. There are challenging, beautiful, funny and slightly rude stories alongside the laconic and the sad. Well known Tasmanian raconteur, and editor of ‘Tasmanian Times’, Lindsay Tuffin is launching the book and he will be accompanied by convict punk band, The Dead Maggies and readings from three of the featured writers, Oliver Mestitz, Emma L Waters, Claire Jansen and Erin Hortle.

DAVID HARSENT HAS WON THE TS ELIOT PRIZE FOR POETRY  with his 11th collection of work after four previous appearances on the shortlist. The prize is worth £20,000. (‘The Guardian’, 12th January, 2015)