In late February, Helen Garner found an email in her junk folder telling her she’d been awarded the Windham Campbell prize for nonfiction writing. Each year the prize awards US$150,000 to each of nine authors who write in English, regardless of nationality, across the genres of nonfiction, fiction and drama.
Articles from Inside Story
This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the ABC’s current affairs program This Day Tonight, heralded in the fortnightly magazine Nation as “the first full-scale confrontation between the old-school hard news and the new school, mediated through personalities.” To mark the anniversary, the ABC has made that first episode available on YouTube.
Much of the English-language reporting of German politics since the September national election has centred on two claims: that Germany is adrift without a government, and that the country has lurched to the right. It’s true that a new government is yet to be formed, and it’s unarguable that the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD, won seats in the Bundestag. But that doesn’t mean that either of those broader claims is correct.
It’s been an off-balance year in politics, here and elsewhere, but the Trump presidency remains the biggest show on earth. The great political question for the coming year is whether — lurching from scandal to scandal, interspersed with tweeted threats of nuclear war — it will survive.
After the Liberals won Bennelong last weekend, we were assured that Malcolm Turnbull was back in the game and we could expect a more evenly balanced political contest in 2018. The prime minister’s win on same-sex marriage seemed a probable status-enhancer, and the looming ministerial reshuffle was a further chance to assert authority.
Looking back on the past twelve months, I wonder if 2017 was the year that never really happened. It kicked off in January with an event the pundits assured us couldn’t transpire — the inauguration of Donald Trump — and from there everything careered off the rails into a parallel universe.
The recent award of the Prime Minister’s Prize for fiction to Ryan O’Neill’s Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers came as a surprise — not because the novel isn’t clever and well-written, but because it is directed at literary readers, at the kind of people who know their literary history and can enjoy the book’s jokes about Australian writers’ lives.
In late 2015, during the dying weeks of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, consumers of Australian politics were treated to a bizarre spectacle. The death of West Australian MP Don Randall had triggered a by-election in the electorate of Canning, and the contest quickly became a test of Abbott’s leadership.
To be honest, my introduction to Mary Beard came not through her many books and articles but via the television screen. It was 2012 and Professor Beard had invited me and an audience of millions to join her on a tour of Ancient Rome. Picture it. Here was an “expert,” a Cambridge don, riding her rickety bike through the crazy traffic of the Italian capital, her long grey hair flowing free behind her like some ageing hippie’s.