I return to the Pacific shores once again, to serve on the stimulating, challenging and rewarding board of the Australian Society of Authors. Bonus: working and catching up with fellow authors and illustrators who hail from all over Australia. Stop press: The collective noun for a gathering of authors and illustrators is a “blessing”. Here’s everyones mentor, Shaun Tan.
Friday: The Barbara Jefferis Awards And the winner is…Helen Gardner for The Spare Room.
The Judges Report:
Like a Dutch interior painter, Helen Garner uses the small domestic scene of two women in one house over three suffocating weeks to illuminate the deep and sustaining nature of friendship between women. As the protagonist — also named Helen — faces the challenge of supporting her dying friend Nicola through a course of painful and patently futile alternative therapy, she is forced to confront herself as well as the death of her friend. Great dignity is afforded to the female body, even as it collapses out of control, and to Nicola, whose courage is unquestionable. The lean, spare prose avoids any hint of sentimentality, while moments of joy and humour shared by the two women are evoked with economy and precision.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators breakfast at the Hughenden Hotel with Susanne Gervay, Chris Cheng and Hazel Edwards. Elise Hurst, author/illustrator extraordinaire also broke bread with us.
And then onto the ASA AGM where Shaun Tan gave the Colin Simpson Memorial Lecture. Catching up with my friend and hero, the dearest Jeannie Baker. Also in this blessing is Julie Vivas and Nadia Wheatley.