CRICKET seemed uppermost on the minds of those at the Long Literary Lunch at Moorilla Estate, at which the Tasmanian Book Prizes were announced (23/3/07). There was a cheer when host Ramona Koval made an announcement. She’d been asked to say that Tasmania had 421 runs … “whatever that means.” She might have been in the dark, but her audience was delighted.

In turn,  Arts Minister Paula Wriedt said to applause, that a report in the Mercury suggesting she didn’t like cricket was “a travesty.” Ms Wriedt went on to say she hoped her seven-year old son would one day captain the Tigers.

It was, of course, the day the Tasmanian Tigers made cricketing history by winning the Pura Cup and you got the feeling that some of those present would rather have been at Bellerive Oval eating chips than at the $190 a head lunch,  where there was little more than polite applause for the literary winners.

Just under 100 people attended the lunch, the menu for which was created by chef Chris Jackman.

To trigger the gastric juices …

Hors d’oevres were home-made Spanish sausage with candied beetroot, Collins Cap goose prosciutto with duck liver parfait and brioche, both mouth-wateringly delicious, and smoked salmon and trout tartlet with salmon eggs,  washed down with 2002 Clover Hill sparkling.

The hors d’oevres were followed by four courses, created from local produce and matched with Tasmanian wines. It’s hard to pick a standout,  but the roast Spring Bay scallop with chilli jam and coconut milk sauce was sensational. Served on a plate with other seafood delicacies, it was accompanied by glass of 2005 Laurel Bank Sauvignon Blanc.

The main course was roast Broadmarsh pigeon, with mushrooms, baby spinach and parsnip crisps and rich game bird jus, served with a 2005 Dalrymple Pinot Noir. A wit at my table hoped her pigeon hadn’t drunk from the guttering on Premier Paul Lennon’s nearby house, while another repressed a shudder at the roasted claw on his plate, muttering something about bird flu.

It really was a fabulous meal, but sadly, there was little food for thought. With Ramona Koval of ABC Radio National’s Book Show in Hobart for the occasion, you would think she would talk about the winning books. Alas no. She was little more than the MC who introduced Arts Minister Wriedt three times to announce the winners of the three prizes, with the odd question for the winners.

Judged by ABC Radio broadcaster Tim Cox and Fullers Bookshop Hobart manager Catherine Schulz, artist Lindsay Broughton, the $25,000 Tasmania Book Prize for the best book with Tasmanian content, was awarded to Nicholas Shakespeare for In Tasmania. It won over Arch and Martin Flanagan’s The Line: A Man’s Experience; A Son’s Quest to Understand, and The Art of Apple Branding: Australian Apple Case Labels and the Industry Since 1788 by Christopher Cowles and David Walker.

The $5000 University of Tasmania Prize for the best book by a Tasmanian publisher, went to Cowles and Walker’s Apples from Oz, which published The Art of Apple Branding.  It won over Michael Roe’s An Imperial Disaster: The Wreck of George the Third, published by Blubber Head Press, and The Companion to Tasmanian History, edited by Alison Alexander, published by UTAS’ Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies.

The $5000 Margaret Scott Prize for the best book by a Tasmanian writer went to Robert Dessaix for Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev. As already noted on tasmaniantimes,  Dessaix was vying for the prize with his partner Peter Timms. Timms was shortlisted for Australia’s Quarter Acre: The Story of the Ordinary Suburban Garden, along with Andrew Sant’s Tremors: New and Selected Poems. Dessaix wasn’t there; he’s in North Africa researching his next book.

Nine books in total were short-listed for the three prizes and in place of flowers, the centrepiece on each table was a pile of three books wrapped in clear celaphane, tied with curling ribbon. And with Chris Pearce manning a Hobart Bookshop table, a number of sales were made.

So what did Koval say? That it was fantastic to find small, regional publishers in a publishing world “where big fish eat little fish all the time.” Praising such as Apples of Oz and UTAS, she warned that in
twenty years,  it would be hard to find any books not published by Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire in London.

And who was there? I’d guess more than half of those present had free tickets — mine included. The only writers I saw were those on the shortlist, who, presumably, were given comps.

Inevitable, really, because few writers could or would pay $190 for lunch.

That said, there are free literary events in the Crystal Palace every day at noon.  On Monday 26th. Heather Rose, Ned Terry and Alison Alexander will discuss writing about Tasmania with Tasmanian Life magazine editor David Smith.

On Tuesday, there’s the launch of The Floating Islands, a fairytale for all ages told in the form a book and CD, with drawings by Udo Sellbach and the story by Undine Sellbach.  For details of all events,  check the Ten Days program: 

http://www.tendaysontheisland.com

 

 

 

 

Margaretta Pos Ten Days on the Island

So what did Koval say? That it was fantastic to find small, regional publishers in a publishing world “where big fish eat little fish all the time.” Praising such as Apples of Oz and UTAS, she warned that in twenty years,  it would be hard to find any books not published by Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire in London.