Well, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards kicked off one heck of month, with May stuffed full of amazing events.
At Sydney Writers Festival, I had a blast on two panels: And The Winner Is… with Suzanne Leal, Kim Scott and Roanna Gonsalves, and New Australian Voices with Holly Ringland and Michaela Kalowski.
Back to my hometown for the inaugural Melbourne Jewish Book Week, for great times with friends old and new. I appeared on two panels: Through History’s Looking Glass with Marija Pericic, Rachel Kadish and Marie Matteson, and Other People’s Lives with Sarah Krasnostein, Heather Morris and Mark Baker. I also moderated a panel about immigrant literature called Elsewhere Streets featuring A.S. Patrić, Arnold Zable and Alice Pung. Melbourne Jewish Book Week closed with a fantastic gala evening where I performed a new piece alongside Morris Gleitzman, Maria Tumarkin, Sarah Krasnostein, Judy Horacek, Elise Hearst and Husky Gawenda.
Next, I was off to the gorgeous Clunes Booktown for a Booktown on Sundays session. Managed to sneak in a lovely feed and wonderful chat, then scribble my name on the Booktown banner alongside so many authors I admire.
Then it was back up to Sydney and the Woollahra Library at Double Bay for a special In Conversation event for Sydney Jewish Writers Festival with Michaela Kalowski. A strange confluence of events saw me whisked off straight afterwards to the ABC Studios to talk about the death of Philip Roth on Matter of Fact with Stan Grant. Good times!
Back to Melbourne for one last event: The ABC Radio National Hub On Books Great Debate, where Claire Coleman, Mark Brandi and I battled Graeme Simsion, Michelle Aung Thin and Jane Rawson over whether authors should write what they know. You can listen to the podcast here!
And that, my friends, was May. Excuse me while I collapse back into my little heap here in the corner.
I’m so thrilled to announce that The Book of Dirt has won three prizes at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. In what was a fantastic event and a thrilling night, the novel picked up The Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, The UTS Glenda Adams Award for Best New Writing and The People’s Choice Award.
You can check it all out in The Sydney Morning Herald, The ABC and The Australian.
A massive congratulations to all the other shortlisted authors and winners, especially the magnificent Kim Scott for his extraordinary novel, Taboo, that took out two prizes including Book of the Year.
Absolutely thrilled to let you know that The Book of Dirt has been shortlisted for the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. And what an honour it is to be sitting alongside incredibly distinguished writers I love and admire. The full shortlist is:
Common People by Tony Birch (University of Queensland Press)
Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark by Catherine Cole (UWA Publishing)
Pulse Points: Stories by Jennifer Down (Text Publishing)
The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser (Text Publishing)
The Restorer by Michael Sala (Text Publishing)
Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador)
You can read the NSWPLA press release here and see the judge’s full citation for The Book of Dirt here.
The shortlisting rounds out a couple of fantastic weeks, with great events at Dymocks Camberwell Book Club and The Wheeler Centre.
Yours truly with Jodi McAlister and Heather Morris at the Dymocks Camberwell Book Club.
The Wheeler Centre Next Big Thing (Imagined Biographies) with Marija Peričić, Kelly Gardiner, some random guy, Joey Bui and Stella Charls.
Apologies for the radio silence – I’ve been in my usual summer hibernation mode for the past month and a half. Lots to tell, though!
The Wheeler Centre just released their new program and I’m excited to be part of The Next Big Thing event on March 19. Come along to hear Marija Pericic, Kelly Gardiner and I chat with Stella Charls about the strange ways fact and fiction collide in our writing. Check out the details and book your free tickets here!
The Australian Book Review ran a feature where publishers picked their favourite books of 2017 that weren’t published by them, and I was humbled to see Barry Scott from Transit Lounge choose The Book of Dirt. Transit Lounge publish so many books and authors that I admire, so it was a real thrill to round out a great year. Check out the feature here.
I also did a great fun interview with Jennifer Wong on ABC Radio National‘s new arts show, The Hub. For once I wasn’t crapping on about my book, but about a book I love and collect obsessively (I have 18 different editions). Put it in your ears here!
Another thoughtful (and rather wonderful) review came courtesy of The Wayward Girls Book Club, which you can check out here.
And, last but not least, I uploaded the original Prologue to The Book of Dirt for anyone who likes absurd, meta playfulness with their heavy meditations on memory and storytelling. Have a read (and a laugh) over here!
Other than that it’s been a quiet one. Ah… summer in Melbourne. Bliss.
What a couple of weeks! More great reviews in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. Check them out here. That brings review season to something of an end, so I made a little picture pulling them together.
I also had an amazing time in Brisbane launching The Book of Dirt at Avid Reader Bookstore. Thanks to Jerath Head from Griffith Review for a thoroughly enjoyable In Conversation, to Chris, Danika and Gareth at 4ZZZ and to everyone who came along.
It’s one of my last events for the year this Wednesday, at The Bad Diaries Salon. I’ll be reading from my unpublished mystery masterpiece *cough cough*, THE RIGHT SNUFF, written when I was twelve and foisted upon my long-suffering English teacher at the time, Ms. Swaitlo. Also reading from their childhood works (well, mostly diaries) will be Jane Rawson, Patrick Allington, Jo Case, and Alice Robinson. Be sure to come along and laugh heartily at our expense.
Some great reviews have come in over the past few days from the likes of Australian Book Review, Good Reading Magazine and ANZ LitLovers. Be sure to check them out here.
This Wednesday I’ll be doing my first solo event, recounting the story behind The Book of Dirt. Come to Port Phillip Library for a session of show and tell, interpretive dance*, self-deprecation, embarrassing stories, little-known and fascinating factoids, not to mention an entire choreographed laser and firework display*.
It’s free but you’ll need to book your spot here.
*May not actually include interpretive dance or choreographed laser and firework display.
Last Thursday saw the third instalment in my In Conversation triptych. Thanks to all the wonderful people who came out to listen and extra special thanks to my three interlocutors who were all, in their very different ways, absolutely brilliant and a joy to chat with.
Tim Byrne at The Avenue, Elsternwick
Tali Lavi at The Jewish Museum of Australia
Leah Kaminsky at Readings, Carlton
This week I’m taking over the airwaves with chats on 2SER, ABC Radio National, 3AW and 3CR. Links to come.
Top: With Tim @ The Avenie
Bottom Left: With Tali @ The Jewish Museum
Bottom Right: With Leah @ Readings
On Thursday night, Arnold Zable launched The Book of Dirt at Memo Music Hall in Melbourne. It was a night of feasting, drinking, great music and, quite possibly, a golem hiding in the rafters. Thanks to all who came.
Launch speech videos will be uploaded soon.
Official publication week for The Book of Dirt has now come and gone, and what a week it was! News came in on Publication Day (August 28) that the book has already gone into reprint. Meanwhile, there were a couple of amazing reviews from Readings Monthly (“Extraordinary”) and The Saturday Paper (“A major book”) which you can check out here!
The Book of Dirt is now available in all good book stores across Australia.
Bram spoke with Nitza Lowenstein on SBS Radio’s Hebrew Program this past Sunday about his family, the quest to rescue their stories from the myths that were built around them and the long road to writing The Book of Dirt. If you missed it, check it out here. And don’t worry, it’s in English.