Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 25, 2011

ALS Gold Medal shortlist 2010

The ASAL is the Association for the Study of Australian Literature and each year they award the ALS Gold Medal for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year.   This award has a a long and illustrious history because it was inaugurated by the Australian Literature Society,  founded in Melbourne in 1899 and incorporated into the Association for the Study of Australian Literature in 1982.

The winner receives a gold medal. No money, but serious prestige.

Here’s the shortlist and the judges comments (shamelessly pilfered from the ASAL website)

Peter Boyle, Apocrypha

Apocrypha is an ambitious, inventive and richly allusive hoax-collage of prose poetry. Despite this allusiveness, it remains accessible: Boyle’s use of an invented translator gives his collection of pseudo-classical aphorisms a single and engaging voice, enabling a playful, elegant and often funny exploration of language, art, time, truth, beauty and love. The result is a complex and profoundly unusual literary experience.

Peter Goldsworthy, Gravel

These distinctive and perfectly crafted exercises in the short story form work as well individually as they do as a collection, and linger in the reader’s mind. Gravel reveals Goldsworthy as a master of the telling situation, teasing out provocative narratives – exploring such themes as vanity, obsession and compassion – to provide powerful and unsettling insights into the human psyche, relationships and contemporary Australian life.

Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance
(see my review)

Scott’s impressively rich novel is a complex portrayal of cultural exchange between Indigenous people and settlers in nineteenth-century Western Australia. That Deadman’s Dance continues Scott’s sustained investigation of language and literacy on the colonial frontier. Unfolding through circular storytelling that highlights the process of history-making itself, the novel investigates both the enlightening potential and the tragic loss of Australia’s founding transcultural endeavours.

Kirsten Tranter, The Legacy (see my review)

In a compelling rewrite of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, Tranter brings her fine observation of triangulated family drama into a tense, dangerous, post-9/11 world. Moving between New York’s elite art world and a richly-rendered North Shore Sydney, The Legacy appealingly combines the literary novel with a not-quite-murder mystery, to take us and its complexly-realised characters into dark, disturbing places and out again.

Chris Womersley, Bereft
(see my review)

Bereft is a gripping, affective and elegant contemporary reworking of canonical concerns in Australian literature, including the lost child and small-town mysteries. Set in a rural Australia overlaid and transformed by the Spanish Influenza, the ravages of war, and old accusations and crimes, Womersley’s tightly-focused novel challenges the boundaries between crime, the gothic and historical fiction to produce an engaging and vividly realised exploration of failure and redemption.

The judges were Katherine Bode (Chair), Julieanne Lamond and Nicole Moore


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