A few bits and pieces that relate to earlier posts:
Frank O’Connor Award: In addition to the interviews with New Zealand award longlistees Elizabeth Smither and Tim Jones, an interview with Witi Ihimaera about his longlisted short story collection Ask The Posts of the House is now up at The Good Books Guide.
Transported: I’ve now seen reviews from Craccum (Auckland University student newspaper), the Chronicle (Wanganui and Horowhenua) and the Nelson Mail. All have been positive. Jessica Le Bas, in the Nelson Mail, had some very nice things to say:
I read Jones’s first story, Rat Up a Drainpipe, and couldn’t put it down. I laughed out loud, and felt unusually good. It was fast paced and full of quirky incidents. When it ended I wanted more.
Typical of Jones, Transported crosses genres. There’s science fiction, comedy and satire, and even a few tales involving global warming. The Wadestone [sic] Shore has Pete rowing around a drowned Wellington foreshore between high-rise buildings, trawling for treasures. The seat of government has moved to Taupo. You have to laugh, but should we?
Jones’s bag of literary tricks is witty and refreshingly humorous. He’s not new to the literary scene, but with Transported, his second short story collection, he will not linger in the background again. Bring it on, Tim Jones!
That’s both very flattering, and a better summary of the book than any I’ve been able to come up with. Thank you, Jessica!
Montana Book Awards: Something of a furore has erupted over the fact that four, rather than the specified five, fiction titles have been shortlisted for the Montana Book Awards. Graham Beattie had a real go at the topic in his blog, and much fulmination has ensued.
I’m not in the camp that is treating this as a major scandal. Of course, I might feel differently if Transported had been among the books in contention (as it will be, perhaps, in 2009); but I think that the judging of literary awards is a subjective thing, a matter at least as much of the judges’ preference as of objective literary merit – if one allows the existence of such a thing.
Therefore, once the judges have been selected, they need to be left to get on with it. As long as their decisions are honestly arrived at – as I’m sure they were in this case – then there isn’t much point in second-guessing them.