On Saturday 27 September I had the pleasure of attending the Melbourne Writers Festival as part of an event to announce the winner of ABR’s 2016 Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. My job was to take photos, but they didn’t turn out so great because the venue was dark, and I stupidly didn’t bring a flash along. So in essence, I was useless. But hey, I got to have some wine and meet some writers, so it wasn’t all bad
The three shortlisted writers this year were Josephine Rowe for ‘Glisk’ [$], Jonathan Tel for ‘The Water Calligrapher’s Women’ [$], and Anthony Lawrence for ‘Ash’ [$]. Each story was equally brilliant, but the deserving winner was Josephine Rowe (I must say, with smug satisfaction, that I called it when the shortlist was announced a while ago).
Left to right: Anthony Lawrence, 2016 Jolley Prize winner Josephine Rowe, ABR Deputy Editor Amy Bailleu, Maxine Beneba Clarke, and Jolley Prize patron Ian Dickson (reading for Jonathan Tel)
Highlights of the evening included meeting fellow writers, whom I’ve admired from afar like Maxine Beneba Clarke, who performed a breath-taking version of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem 'Howl' a little while ago; the genial Michael Winkler, who was the winner of ABR’s Calibre Prize for his extraordinary essay, ‘The Great Red Whale’, required reading for all Australians; Emily Laidlaw, who regaled me with tales of her travels around India, mainly for the Jaipur Literary festival; Anthony Lawrence who was a very engaging speaker; and the lovely Josephine Rowe, who apparently submitted her story only minutes before the deadline, and also complemented me on my shitty op-shop jacket. The third writer on the shortlist, Jonathan Tel, is based in the UK and couldn’t make the trip.
As a side note, I stumbled upon a signed copy of Palomino (1984, first published in 1980), Elizabeth Jolley's first novel.