Baileys Longlist 2016: waking up

baileysprize2016Enough nickle and diming the longlisters of 2016. At this rate I’ll never get through introducing them, much less narrowing down my list of must-find-and-read-no-matter -how-much-sleep-I-must-lose-in-the-process.

Because you can always sleep when you’re dead, am I right? Not while there are books you’re still alive to read.


“…there will be sleeping

enough in the grave….”

  • Ben Franklin

“I’ve visited his grave, and he’s not kidding. There’s really not much going on there.”

  • Lisa Guidarini


There are TEN debut novels on the Baileys Longlist this year. T-E-N. While I’ve been piddling my way through, barfing up blog posts at midnight just to get something out there about this list, as if I’m the first pioneer to crest this particular hill, it’s totally passed me by that this list is dominated by new writers.



borderbarbedwire longwayshinyplantdictionarymutualunderstandingbaileyswhispers



Well, if it’s going to be a prize for first novels, now that’s a different animal. I’m all about finding new writers. Pitting first novels against literary heavyweights, that’s what I question. I mean, perhaps throwing in a brand new writer or two is one thing, but ten?

That takes some serious balls.


Kate Atkinson. The phenomenon that is Hanya Yanagihara. Elizabeth Strout and Geraldine Brooks vs. 10 neophytes.

Now, on what by now must be the third or perhaps even fourth hand, read a bit about these ten and you’ll see how mind-blowingly good these books sound. As in, how on earth did the judges unearth so much new talent? A thousand book scouts on a thousand book hunts could scarcely have found such wealth.

But they have.

This has officially blown my reading mind. It’s shut me up, readers. Or, rather, stunned me into temporary confusion while I have time for the little gears in my brain to catch up.

I do not know what to make of this prize. It’s either the most brilliant list ever or it’s broken every rule and must be punished.

All I know is I’m riveted. Positively riveted.



This. Is. Big.


Baileys Longlist 2016: Shirley Barrett’s ‘Rush Oh!’


I’d never heard of Shirley Barrett before her Baileys nomination. Lo and behold, she’s an award winning director and screenwriter, recipient of several Australian film awards as well as a Camera D’Or from the Cannes Film Festival for her Love Serenade. (1996). Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1961, Barrett now makes her home in Sydney.


Rush Oh! is her first novel. And she’s pretty much hit it out of the park on her first attempt, wouldn’t you say?

quotesRush Oh! takes the form of a memoir written by Mary Davidson, the daughter of the real-life whaler George “Fearless” Davidson. His fictionalised daughter Mary, now in her 60s, looks back on the “brutal days” of the most difficult season in whaling history. Its hardships led not only to the degeneration of her father’s beloved business but also of the family unit. Mixing historical detail with humour and an engaging romantic subplot of what might have been, Barrett has written an unusual and entertaining yarn centred around Melville’s great leviathan.”


Finding lovely new writers is one of the real joys of book award lists. While not all lists are created equally, with a bit of judicious nosing about one can find some very promising reads by following media buzz.


I’m very light on Australian literature. I’ve read Kate Grenville,  Nevil Shute, Peter Carey, Christina Stead and James Coetzee, to name a few, but the country has such a rich literary tradition and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In Rush Oh! Barrett tackles Melville, My curiousity to read how that turns out is best described as burning. And from the reviews, it sounds like it’s one rip-roaring read.




  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (March 22, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316261548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316261548
An impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman’s coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales.
1908: It’s the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father’s boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters in the wake of their mother’s death. But when the handsome John Beck-a former Methodist preacher turned novice whaler with a mysterious past-arrives at the Davidson’s door pleading to join her father’s crews, suddenly Mary’s world is upended.”


Here’s a lovely video featuring this longlisted title: