Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards: Winners 2010

The Victorian Premier's Literary Award Winners for 2010 were announced last night at the official dinner for the event.

Some of the awarded prizes included

The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction which went to Peter Temple for Truth
The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-Fiction was awarded to Brenda Walker for Reading by Moonlight: how books saved a life, and
The Prize for Indigenous Writing for Legacy by Larissa Behrendt

Check out The Wheeler Centre website to find out more about winning works in all of the literary categories.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

As part of the Get Reading! program and the 50 books you can't put down list, I picked up The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do to read.

I really enjoyed this memoir; it was easy to read, poignant in places but also extremely funny in parts, which I was anticipated given Anh Do is a very talented Comedian.

The book begins with a summary of how Anh's parents met and then leave Vietnam. The pace of the story is steady and quickly we're reading of Anh's family life in Australia. Anh's parents raise their children to be thankful to live in Australia and they are all encouraged to give back or help others whenever possible.

I was fascinated to read that Anh felt he had to pursue academic studies in acknowledgement of the sacrifices his mother made for him and his siblings. So while Anh's passions laid elsewhere, he simply worked harder to complete studies both at University and TAFE, plus worked and ran small business ventures as well. Anh demonstrated an amazing work ethic at a young age, which stood him in good stead when starting his comedic career.

By the end of the book I felt I knew Anh and his family intimately. His struggles and triumphs are highlighted with terrific stories of different people and key events in his life; I especially liked reading about the cultural differences between his family and that of his fiance's and how they managed those situations.
An enjoyable, positive read. Some family pictures are also included, which complement the story told.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Lonely Planet's Travel with Children

September school holidays are here again in Victoria and at CGD Libraries we have a terrific school holiday program with activities for babies to teens. To view more details of events and booking information click here.

Meanwhile, why not take a look at this travel book review provided by Karmel; Travel with Children 5th ed.

I have been toying with the daunting idea of taking an extended holiday with a small child. As soon as the thought enters my head though I immediately push it out again. It just seems all too hard. Then I came across this book, which puts the whole thing into perspective for me. With great insight from those who have already taken the plunge, this guide gives tips to parents on how to successfully take a family holiday that everyone can enjoy.

Containing information such as what to take (or not to take!), logistics (such as lugging around all that paraphernalia that comes with young children including car seats and prams) and the best holidaying spots for families both locally and abroad, the thought of travelling doesn't seem as daunting.

Happy September School Holidays, Susan

Monday, 13 September 2010

Man Booker Prize - 2010 Short List

The Man Booker Prize 2010 short list has been announced. An award for the best novel of the year written by citizens born in the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

This year's short list includes:

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
C by Tom McCarthy
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Long Song by Andrea Levy

For further information about the titles shortlisted and the awards link into


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt

Mari Jungstedt is another of the wonderful Swedish crime writing world. This is her fourth book translated into English, and tranlated very well by Tiina Nunnally.

All Mari Jungstedt's books are set on the scenic tourist island of Gotland in Sweden, and feature the sleuthing duo Inspector Anders Knutas and Swedish news reporter Johan Berg. Well developed characters whose private lives intertwine through the book. The action in A Killer's Art starts with the murder of a very well-known local art-gallery owner, Egon Wallin. Egon was a prominent and visible man in the local community, and well respected locally as well as in the art world. And now he is found brutally murdered and hanging from the medieval town gate in the beautiful and quiet little town of Visby.

As Knutas and his colleagues start digging into the case dark secrets and unknown facts start to surface. The gallery owner, who has just opened a new, very interesting exhibition featuring a young Lithuanian artist, had sold his gallery without anyone knowing it, not even his wife. Both he and his wife secretly had lovers, each without the other knowing about it. Also, his wife, going through the house after her husband's death, found a number of extremely valuable paintings hidden there. Further investigation showed that they had all been stolen from various Swedish owners over the last few years.
Then, while Knutas and his colleagues are still more or less completely in the dark, struggling to make sense of the case and not finding anything that seems to lead them in the direction of the killer, a new killing takes place. A man is reported missing from the local hotel and the police feel certain that he has been or will be killed. When he is mutilated and seemingly tortured. Time is running out for the police.

Having experienced withdrawal symptoms after reading Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy I found this a very enjoyable, intriguing and sufficient suspense to keep me engaged. Unlike so many of this genre it is excellently written, with good language, very clear and at times elegant. Also, it is a book that will perhaps be of particular interest to art lovers, as it moves in the world of art in Sweden, and features a number of interesting paintings and artists such as "The Dying Dandy" by the Swedish impressionist Nils Dardel along with several paintings by Zorn.


Monday, 6 September 2010

New TV program Shelf Life: explores reading, writing and libraries

This Tuesday, 7th September at 7pm, the new show Shelf Life premiers on TVS (Digital Channel 44).

Produced by the University of Western Sydney (UWS) School of Communication Arts, Shelf Life is a half hour program which explores topics such as unique bookshops, book launches, writing groups and libraries.

The series is focused on new books, new authors and new ideas; investingating how e-books are influencing the publishing world and how we gain recommendations for reading material from friends and through library experiences.

As quoted in the press release from USW - "Despite Australia's love of sport, libraries remain the most visited cultural institutions in the country...".


Thursday, 2 September 2010

The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah

The House of the Mosque is a story about an Iranian family who have lived in the house next to a mosque in the city of Senejan for centuries. The main character of the book is Aqa Jaan, the head of the house and the city bazaar. Two of his cousins also live in the house; one is the mosque's imam and the other is the muezzin. At the beginning of the book the life in the mosque's family is peaceful, uneventful and following age old traditions of the house of the mosque. Little by little though life is changing for Aqa Jaan's family. The fall of the Shah, the installment of the Khomeini government and the return of the Ayatollahs into power destroy the established order of the house.

In the years that follow the 1979 revolution the book follows the Aqa Jaan's previously prominent family that slowly finds itself first under surveillance of the Shah's secret police and almost overnight under the terror of Iranian Ayatollahs. There is an anaology in the book among the Aqa Jaan's traditional Iranian family with its members following diverse paths, children abandoning the old house of the mosque's traditions and the country that is falling apart, splitting into various political fractions.

I greatly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read multicultural fiction and would like to learn more about Iranian religious and social culture and its traditions.