Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ned Kelly Award shortlist shuns big names?

Thanks to Bernadette and Kerrie at Fair Dinkum Crime, I discovered today that the 2011 Ned Kelly Awards shortlists have now been released. I was pretty curious about this, given the proximity of our trans-Tasman neighbours, and the fact that I have read and enjoyed several Australian crime fiction authors in the past couple of years, including the likes of Peter Corris, Leah Giarratano, Michael Robotham, and several more. I've also heard very good things about some authors I haven't read yet, such as Katherine Howell, Malla Nunn, and Adrian Hyland.

Given there were 23 novels nominated for the 2011 Ned Kelly for Best Fiction, there were always going to be plenty of good books and great authors that missed out on the short-list. But I imagine few would have predicted that not a single one of the 'big names' like Peter Corris, Kathryn Fox, Leah Giarratano, Kerry Greenwood, Katherine Howell, Adrian Hyland, Colleen McCulloch and Malla Nunn would make it. I'm surprised - especially given the great things I've heard about GUNSHOT ROAD by Hyland, in particular.

Perhaps this just shows a lack of knowledge on my part of contemporary Australian crime fiction, but I was scratching my head a little when the finalists were revealed as:
  • THE HALF-CHILD by Angela Savage (Text)
  • THE DIGGER REST HOTEL by Geoffrey McGeachin (Penguin)
  • BEREFT by Chris Womersley (Scribe Publishing)
I really expected to see GUNSHOT ROAD on the list, given all the great things I'd heard about it. But then again, I'm sure there were several people who were surprised that books such as THE FALLEN by Ben Sanders didn't make the 2011 Ngaio Marsh Award finalists list, announced in the past few days. That's the nature of these things. Not every good book can make it, and judging can be quite subjective. And now that I have had a look online, THE HALF-CHILD seems pretty interesting, and has got some good reviews.

For those out there that have read Australian crime fiction, what do you think of this year's shortlistees? Are they great books that perhaps just haven't yet got the publicity of some of the bigger-name authors? Do you think there are books that have been hard-done-by? I'd love to get your thoughts.


  1. I agree Craig - at least GUNSHOT ROAD should have been there

  2. Of the list, I've only read Gunshot Road and Malla Nunn's second book, although my goal for this year is to catch up on a lot of books from Oz.

    It's inexplicable how Gunshot Road didn't get on this list. It is an amazingly well-written book, which one savors one paragraph at a time, like a great dessert. Some of the prose just sings, and it's full of feeling.

    I got such a picture of life for Indigenous people, the culture, thinking, the difficulties, and more. There's so much to that book. It is shocking that it was left out.

    And I'm surprised, too, about Malla Nunn. Her books set in 1952 South Africa, when people lived under horrific apartheid, catch the human condition, and do more, too.

    I have decided to read several of the other authors you list before the end of 2011, as I've read such good reviews of their works.

  3. We have a similar situation in the UK where the CWA Daggers have ignored books - all highly praised on publication - by Reginald Hill, Kate Atkinson, John Le Carre, Martin Cruz Smith, Michael Connelly, Roger Smith and Louise Penny. Whatever the virtues of the books which made the Gold and Steel Dagger shortlist, I find it difficult to accept that these authors should have been overlooked.