It’s great news to hear that this wonderful book, after being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, the Stella, the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Australian Literary Society’s Gold Medal, has won the prestigious Kibble Award. An article in The Conversation by Elizabeth Webby, one of the Kibble judges, expresses surprise at its failure to win any of the others and wonders why London’s work has not had more critical attention.
Although each of her books has won at least one award and been shortlisted for many others, they have attracted little in the way of extended critical response.
That’s even more surprising when one thinks how rare it is for a fiction writer to be equally good at short stories and novels. Most of the great writers of short fiction, such as Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield and Henry Lawson did not publish longer works. The fiction of Winton and David Malouf, who have also published acclaimed novels and stories, has attracted several book-length studies as well as numerous critical essays.
If you don’t know London’s work*, do yourself a favour by reading her. The Golden Age would be a great place to start.
*3 short story collections (Sister Ships, Letter to Constantine, New Dark Age) and 3 novels (Gilgamesh, The Good Parents, The Golden Age). It’s a crying shame that Gilgamesh, one of the most imaginative and accomplished Australian novels since Peter Carey’s early work, was beaten for the Miles Franklin in 2002 by Tim Winton’s Dirt Music.