The Nib Waverley Library Award for Literature 2015 Shortlist

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The Nib Waverley Library Award, 2015, now in it's 14th year,  is presented for excellence in research in the creation of a literary work first published between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. Other factors considered by the judges include readability, literary merit and value to the community. All genres of fiction and non-fiction are eligible.  The winner will be announced on 25 November, 2015.

 Shortlisted books: 

 The Director is the Commander by Anna Broinowski
Funny, multi-layered and utterly compelling, The Director is the Commander is a gripping account of an extraordinary journey inside a nation we can usually only see from the outside looking in.

The Director is the Commander centres around the bizarre twenty-one day shoot Broinowski did in North Korea to make her documentary, Aim High in Creation! She meets and befriends artists and apparatchiki, defectors and loyalists, and gains a new insight into the world's most secretive regime. Her adventures are set against a parallel exploration of propaganda in general: both in its ham-fisted North Korean form and its sophisticated but no less pervasive incarnation in the corporate West.

 John Olsen - An Artist’s Life by Darleen Bungey
This landmark biography by Darleen Bungey, the author of the celebrated biography of Arthur Boyd, graphically depicts the forces that drove John Olsen to become one of the country's greatest artists. An exhilarating book, both trenchant and tender, it strips away the veneer of showmanship and fame to show the substance of a painter driven by a need to depict his country's landscape as Australians had never seen it before.
Given access to his uncensored diaries and drawing on years of extensive interviews with both Olsen and those who have known him best, she explores his passionate life and follows his navigation though the friendships, rivalries and politics of the Australian art world. How did a shy, stuttering boy from Newcastle, neglected by his alcoholic father, come to paint the great mural Salute to Five Bells at the Sydney Opera House?
This biography follows that journey - through Olsen's early experiences in the bush, particularly a formative period at Yass (a time previously unrecorded), to years of cleaning jobs to pay his way through art school, to a milestone time spent in France and Spain - and traces his constant travels and relocations within Australia, including his epic journeys into the outback and to Kati thanda-Lake Eyre.

Warning: The story of Cyclone Tracy by Sophie Cunningham
The sky at the top end is big and the weather moves like a living thing. You can hear it in the cracking air when there is an electrical storm and as the thunder rolls around the sky…
When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia’s season of goodwill.
For the fortieth anniversary of the nation’s most iconic natural disaster, Sophie Cunningham has gone back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation—and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist’s eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more—and more destructive—extreme weather with every year that passes.

The Nashos' War - Australia’s National Servicemen and Vietnam by Mark Dapin
On 10 March 1965, the first nasho's birthdate was drawn from a lottery barrel at the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne.  Over the next seven years, a total of 63740 young Australian men would be drafted into the army and face the prospect of being sent to war.
The nashos came from all walks of life: plumbers and dentists, footballers and musicians, Christians and Jews, willing and unwilling.  Some spent their two years square-bashing in Singleton.  Others went to Vietnam to fight – and die – in Australia's bloodiest battles, including the slaughter at Long Tan.
But our ideas of national service contain strange contradictions and inaccuracies: that the draft was unpopular but militarily necessary; that the nashos in Vietnam all volunteered to go to war; and that they were met by protesters and demonstrations on their return to Australia, rather than the huge welcome-home parades reported at the time.

Acute Misfortune - The Life and Death of artist Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen
An unflinching portrait of talent and addiction.
In 2008 the artist Adam Cullen invited journalist Erik Jensen to stay in his spare room and write his biography.
What followed were four years of intense honesty and a relationship that became increasingly claustrophobic. At one point Cullen shot Jensen, in part to see how committed he was to the book. At another, he threw Jensen from a speeding motorbike. The book contract Cullen used to convince Jensen to stay with him never existed.
Acute Misfortune is a riveting account of the life and death of one of Australia's most celebrated artists, the man behind the Archibald Prize-winning portrait of David Wenham. Jensen follows Cullen through drug deals and periods of deep self-reflection, onwards into his court appearance for weapons possession and finally his death in 2012 at the age of forty-six. The story is by turns tender and horrifying: a spare tale of art, sex, drugs and childhood, told at close quarters and without judgement.

Blood and Guts- Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent
I pull on my balaclava and step onto the bridge wing.  It's loud outside: I can hear the rumbles of nine vessels' engines and the hiss of ten water cannons . . . suddenly the bridge is full of refugees from the upper deck.  They are blocking my view out the back windows, but their faces – afraid, excited, awestruck – illustrate the looming presence of the Nisshin. I bend my knees and grip the bench, ready for the crunch.
In Blood and Guts, Sam Vincent plunges into the whale wars.
Vincent sets sail with Sea Shepherd, led by the charismatic and abrasive Paul Watson.  He attends the recent case at the International Court of Justice, which finds Japan's 'scientific' whaling in the southern Ocean to be unlawful. And he travels to Japan to investigate why its government doggedly continues to bankroll the unprofitable hunt.
This is a fresh, funny and intelligent look at how Australia has become the most vocal anti-whaling nation on Earth.  Vincent skewers hypocrisy and sheds light on motives noble and otherwise.

People's Choice Award
Voting for The Nib People's Choice Award is now open! If you've got an eye for a winner, let us know which book you think is the best. You don't have to read all the shortlisted books, simply vote for your favourite author, the book most worthy, thought-provoking or timely at: http://haveyoursaywaverley.com.au/NibVote2015  before 8 November.

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