Congratulations to Elizabeth Harrower, whose book In Certain Circles has won the Voss Literary Prize for the best Australian novel written in 2014. The prize is judged by Australian University Heads of English, the peak body for the study of English at Australian universities.
This is brilliant recognition for an author whose work almost disappeared from our literary landscape, and particularly for this novel—In Certain Circles was withdrawn from publication in the 1970s and languished in the depths of the National Library’s archives for more than forty years before Text’s publisher, Michael Heyward, was granted permission to read it.
It is Harrower’s fifth novel, following on from the highly acclaimed The Watch Tower, The Catherine Wheel, Down in the City and The Long Prospect. This year, Text has also published a collection of her short stories, A Few Days in the Country.
‘Harrower’s searing, spare prose is breathtaking, as is her depiction of dashed promise and the gulf beween the sexes.’
— Di Speirs, BBC Radio Books Editor
In Certain Circles, set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses of Sydney’s north shore, is an intense psychological drama about family and love and the imbalance of power in personal relationships. Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful. And though they come from different social worlds, all four will spend their lives moving in and out of each other’s shadow.
‘In Certain Circles [is] a pin-sharp psychological drama about two pairs of siblings, set on the shores of Sydney Harbour. Harrower’s searing, spare prose is breathtaking, as is her depiction of dashed promise and the gulf beween the sexes.’ Di Speirs, BBC Radio Books Editor
‘Harrower’s writing is witty, desolate, truth-seeking, and complexly polished...The book belongs with her best work, with The Watch Tower and The Long Prospect…[It] is more explicit than Harrower’s earlier work about ideological tensions between men and women. It is also broader in scope and not as angry—wiser and less hopeless.’ James Wood, New Yorker
Read more praise for In Certain Circles.
In Certain Circles has also this week been shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction. Helen Garner’s This House of Grief has also been shortlisted in the Non-fiction category, and both The Minnow by Diana Sweeney and The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim are shortlisted in the Young-Adult Fiction category. Congratulations, all!