A whopping 71 books were considered for this year’s National Biography Award, which is selected by the State Library of New South Wales, but only six of them made the Shortlist. Here is a list of worthy competitors:
The Unknown Judith Wright by Georgina Arnott: This book presents a more human figure of Judith Wright than we have previously seen, and concentrates on Wright’s younger years. New material allows us to hear, directly, thrillingly, the feisty voice of a young Judith Wright and forces us to reconsider the woman we thought we knew.
Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner: In Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow, Suzanne Falkiner unravels the reasons behind Randolph Stow’s quiet retreat from Australia and the wider literary world. Meticulously researched, insightful and at times deeply moving, Falkiner’s biography pieces together an intriguing story from Stow’s personal letters, diaries, and interviews with the people who knew him best.
Position Doubtful: Mapping Landscapes and Memories by Kim Mahood: Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood’s constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtful is a revelation of the significance of the land to its people – and of the burden of history.
Evatt: A Life by John Murphy: Murphy looks closely at Evatt’s previously unexamined private life and unravels some of the puzzles that have lead Evatt to be considered erratic, even mad. ‘Bert’ Evatt remains a polarising figure – still considered by many in Labor as the man who ‘split the party’ and by many conservatives as unreliable and dangerous.
The Long Goodbye by P. J. Parker: On 13th October my father killed my mother. And so begins this extraordinarily, moving and powerful memoir of an Australian family. Spanning three generations of a rural Queensland farming family, The Long Goodbyeis an unforgettable story of love and loss by an outstanding new writer of originality and remarkable skill.
Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty by Tom D. C. Roberts: Before Rupert is an unflinching prequel to the saga of the Murdoch family’s rise to power. Historian Tom Roberts draws on an unparalleled range of interviews, correspondence and archival sources to trace the genesis of the family’s involvement with the news and entertainment industry and their resulting influence. This book explores how Keith Murdoch ruthlessly exploited his networks to gain ultimate control over Australia’s media and political landscapes.