He burst onto the Australian and international literary scene in 1998 with his brilliant debut novel Three Dollars. It won the Age Book of the Year Award, the Betty Trask Award (UK), the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn-Rhys/Mail On Sunday Book of the Year Award (UK) as well as for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. He went on to co-write the screenplay for the film of Three Dollars , which received the Australian Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the A.F.I. Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. A novel that commented on the effects of contemporary politics, Three Dollars was a sign of great things to come.
Three Dollars was followed in 1998 by the publication of a collection of short stories to critical acclaim. The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming was a national bestseller in the US where it was named a New York Times Book Review ‘Editors’ Choice’ and received the Steele Rudd Award for the best Australian short story collection in its year of publication.
The short story collection was then followed by his second novel, the magnificent Seven Types of Ambiguity. It was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction (now defunct) and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for South East Asia and South Pacific Region. (I thought it was even better than Three Dollars). You can read a review of Seven Types of Ambiguity at Tony’s Reading List.
And now, The Street Sweeper. Like Perlman’s other novels, it combines an exploration of humanity with social critique, within a great story that is hard to put down. (See my review).
So yes, I am a fan of Elliot’s work and I wait impatiently between books for the next one to be published. I am delighted that one of my favourite authors has agreed to participate in Meet an Aussie Author. Here are his responses:
1. I was born in Melbourne.
2. When I was a child I wrote short stories, poems, plays and songs.
3. It was the powerful effect that certain books had on me, particularly in difficult times, the comfort, the enlightenment, the feeling that I wasn’t alone that probably led me to want to see if I could write things even one other person might want to read.
4. I write on a computer although the first drafts of my first 3 books were all written in longhand. Somewhere I probably still have the embarrassing first drafts in my appalling handwriting.
5. I have terrible trouble with insomnia but if I possibly can, I try to start writing in the mornings and, with various breaks, I write till evening. Well, that’s the plan. Usually I try not to write at night because if I write at night I guarantee my thoughts will be racing when it’s time to sleep even more than they usually are. And then I definitely won’t be able to sleep.
6. Research can be enjoyable but it can also be arduous, expensive and too beguiling. The danger is that you use your research as an excuse to delay writing. Sooner or later you have to tell yourself you know enough to write on your topic.
7. I keep my published works in bookshelves.
8. On the day my first book was published I was at the Adelaide Writers’ Festival not really knowing what to do and wondering if it was all about to stop.
9. At the moment, I’m writing a talk I have to give next week.
10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I reach for a dictionary or thesaurus. Sometimes I’ll read something I’ve read and admired before in an attempt to liberate my mind from its unproductive state before I stumble into the gutter of self-loathing.
Thanks, Elliot, for participating in Meet an Aussie Author!
My thanks also go to the publicist for the Miles Franklin Award, Rachel Caton from Honner Media, for her assistance in the preparation of this Meet an Aussie Author blog post.
Availability of Elliot’s books:
- Three Dollars (book) and Three Dollars (DVD);
- The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming;
- Seven Types of Ambiguity
- The Street Sweeper