For the first time, the three winners of The Sydney morning Herald The awards for the best young Australian novelist were all chosen for short stories.
The form has often lived a precarious existence – sometimes popular, sometimes in the literary desert. But if the books by Alice Bishop, Josephine Rowe and Joey Bui – A constant buzz, here until August and Chance Ticket, respectively – are something to go by the news has a bright future.
It was in 2009, when Nam Le The boat was selected, as the awards first embraced shorter fiction, since when writers like Abigail Ulman, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Jennifer Down have been honored for their stories.
The prices, which were created by former Herald Literary editor Susan Wyndham to recognize emerging writing talents, were first featured in 1997. They are open to writers aged 35 and under at the time of publication of their nominated books. This year, thanks to the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, Alice Bishop, as the overall winner, will receive $ 8,000, while Bui and Rowe will receive $ 1,000 each. I was one of the judges along with Maxine Beneba Clarke and Fiona McGregor.
Bishop’s collection focuses on the lingering trauma of the Victorian Black Saturday fires in February 2009, when 173 people lost their lives. Her family home in Christmas Hills was destroyed and her father barely managed to escape.
Bishop chose to write short stories in large part because she wanted multiple perspectives: “There are so many stories and some intertwine and some don’t. I sometimes think short fiction gets an essence of feeling that maybe longer fiction doesn’t always get. ”
When she first started writing, she didn’t expect stories to end up in a collection. “They were just things that moved me, nuggets of things, of truth about the whole disaster that were emblematic of the greater story.” Bishop said she was now working on a novel.
This is the second time Rowe has been a Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. She was chosen in 2017 for her novel, A loving and faithful animal, which was originally intended as a story in Here until August.