Barbara Jefferis Award 2014 winners

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Fiona McFarlane’s terrific first novel The NIght Guest has shared first prize with Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts in the Barbara Jefferis Award for  a novel that  “depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls”.

Perhaps the focus on  empowerment of women dictates the slant of this report – there is a relationship between elderly people in the book but The Night Guests is not just “a novel about sexual desire among the elderly”. It’s much deeper and stranger than that.  For a  more illuminating insight into the winners, the others on the shortlist, and the whole judging process, head over to Dorothy’s own account:

And the judges’ report is here:

Overseas readers interested in reading some good Aussie fiction may be interested in the shortlist:

  • Sufficient Grace (Amy Espeseth, Scribe)
  • The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Tracy Farr, Fremantle Press)
  • Pilgrimage (Jacinta Halloran, Scribe)
  • Sea Hearts (Margo Lanagan, A&U)
  • The Night Guest (Fiona McFarlane, Penguin)
  • The First Week (Margaret Merrilees, Wakefield Press)
  • The Mountain (Drusilla Modjeska, Vintage).

5 thoughts on “Barbara Jefferis Award 2014 winners

  1. Yes, i was surprised by the slant the SMH journalist took in writing up ‘The Night Guest’. I wouldn’t have mentioned sex among the elderly in a newspaper article (or anywhere, probably). As you say, the book is much ‘deeper and stranger’. Fiona McFarlane spoke about her character, Ruth’s, imaginative life, when she gave her thank-you speech, and that, I thought, was the right focus, given that she only spoke for a few minutes. She struck me as a modest – on the presentation night somewhat over-awed young woman – unlike Margo Lanagan, who was relaxed and clearly more used to public speaking. ‘Sea Hearts’ is a ‘deep and strange’ book too. It’s classified as a fantasy novel, but has nothing in common with the run-of-the-mill mass of books belonging to that genre.

  2. I wonder how Fiona felt about the SMH article. Not much she can do about it now, though; it reminds me of what you said about wanting to respond to reviewers who get things wrong.
    I’ve just got the Margo Lanagan book from the library so am looking forward to that.

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