jeudi 29 octobre 2009

ABR launches a new website

ABR launches a new website

Australian Book Review’s
website has been fully redeveloped in keeping with recent scrutiny of the magazine’s design. The new boasts several new features, including easy online subscription options and a free archive of recent reviews.

In order to experience the new site in full, existing bookmarks for ABR on the web need to be updated. To do this, simply delete your old bookmark; open a new Internet Explorer window; type in ABR’s address; and create a new bookmark.

Don’t forget to vote in the ABR FAN Poll – see the website for details. Hundreds of people have voted already. Voting closes on December 15, and there are three great prizes to be won.

We hope you enjoy it!

lundi 26 octobre 2009

Opinion: Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing edited by David Carter and Anne Galligan. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2007, xv + 416 pp. Paperback. ISBN: 978 0 7022 3469 9.

Given that publishing studies are slowly emerging on Australian university curricula, it is no wonder that critical material on the subject is scarce, to put it bluntly. Before 2001, scholars and students alike could only access academic sources on the book industry such as narrow-focussed government and industry reports which were mostly published from the 1990s onwards – the latest being Jeremy Fischer’s Current Publishing Practice: An Australian Report (Sydney: ASA, 2005). In 2001, the University of Queensland Press started to show a growing interest in publishing, as exemplified by the release of A History of the Book in Australia 1891-1945: A National Culture in a Colonised Market, followed by Richard Nile’s well-informed monograph entitled The Making of the Australian Literary Imagination (2002) and the second volume of A History of the Book in Australia 1946-2005: Paper Empires (2005).

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing is thus not only a welcome addition to this cluster of studies but also a timely appraisal of the Australian publishing industry which, more than being a riddle, is riddled with paradoxes. First, we are told “that book publishers in Australia produce more income than music and theatre production and performing arts festivals combined” (1), a most startling observation when we repeatedly hear people in the book trade pleading poverty. Second, we cannot say Australia lives up to her reputation of being a nation of voracious readers when publishers are driven to take scant risk and published literary novels are fewer in numbers than, say, 10 or 15 years ago. Third, publishers and writers alike crave for opening up to new international markets while they strongly support Australia’s protectionist territorial copyright regime. Fourth, it is not uncommon that authors who strive after making a living out of their skills end up eking out a living on derivative income provided by Public Lending Right, Educational Lending Right and the Copyright Agency Limited.

Making Books comprises three uneven sections detailed as follows: 8 contributions in “Industry dynamics”, 4 in “The industry and new technologies” and 11 chapters in “Industry sectors and genre publishing”. The final pages are filled with appendices, a glossary, notes and an index. A chronology of the major landmarks would have come in handy to get a bird eye’s view of the major issues discussed even though the back cover provides the top four broad lines of argument: “Is the Australian publishing industry floundering or flourishing? What is the future of the book? Has lifestyle replaced literary publishing? Have new technologies revolutionised the nature of the industry?” But the monograph itself does not seem to bring any clear or definite answers – all the more as there is no roundup conclusion.

In this most informative collection of articles, contributors provide hard-to-find data and figures on the book trade which, traditionally, only publishers are privy to. Making Books assesses how globalisation has impacted on the book industry: the cannibalisation of independent publishers, the glamorisation of books, the recourse to protectionist laws like the 30 and 90-day-rules, the new book selling strategies such as using just-in-time methods and sales-tracking systems, to mention a few. All these reforms turn out to be a double edge sword: though they have contributed to a sounder knowledge of the market and to an even greater professionalization of the book trade, the sudden leap Australian publishing has taken over the last thirty odd years has spawned angst-ridden concerns that points to an ailing industry.

There is no questioning the research quality of this reader-friendly volume, and no doubt that contributors know their subject like a book, but some pithy turns of phrase insidiously morph into provocative statements. Former managing director of University of New South Wales Press Robin Derricourt contends that “Arguably, there is no scholarly book (‘academic monograph’) publishing industry in Australia. Australian academics turn to overseas publishers to publish their specialist monographs and (sometimes via local distributors) to supply their libraries with their reference needs.” (225) To be sure scholarly book publishing is on the wane in Australia and most university presses (MUP, UNSWP, UQP, UWAP, etc.) are cutting down on their academic monograph production. Most releases are now heavily subsidized and are sometimes only made possible through requesting the author to provide matching funds. As it happens, Derricourt’s press asks for $5,000 – a disguised form of vanity publishing, some would say. But more than just taking stock, why not try and analyse why scholarly book publishing is in dire straits?

While it can be argued that some academics tend to write monographs for their peers rather than for students, there also seems to be no Australian nationwide policy devised to back up what is to be considered national heritage in print. If a body like the Australia Council could indirectly reward monograph writers and publishers by donating funds to all libraries in Australia to systematically purchase any commendable book published in the field of Australian Studies (when the print run for such studies is generally 500 copies), there could be well over 50 copies of a specific title held in the various libraries scattered throughout the country (quite a realistic figure given that there are 39 universities, 6 State Libraries, 1 National Library and heaps of local ones). This minimum of 50 books in Australia will ensure that monograph authors are eligible for PLR along with ELR and will be a first step towards rewarding their painstaking efforts. What is more, these monographs, which help mentoring students, will only meet their targeted readership once they have been set on the compulsory reading list of senior high schools and tertiary institutions.

Knowledge does not come cheap in many ways and so it is not uncommon for students to pay over $140 for their textbooks. The odds are that students enrolled in economics see this kind of purchase as a worthwhile investment to read high-quality research and data gathered over many years; and it is to be hoped that students in other fields feel just the same, but alas!there is little room for optimism. What is worse, not everybody benefits from funding programs and prizes attached with a tidy sum, particularly those who undertake independent research and authors unaffiliated to universities or working on the margins of academia. So if monograph writers cannot bank on royalties or prizes to break even, are they expected to become philanthropists? The injustice is all the ranker that less esteemed and less demanding publications allow their authors to make money hand over fist. If this becomes a sore point, I feel that there will come a time when Australian academics will no longer be able to turn to overseas publishers to see their intellectual efforts in print.

But to get back to the subject, I confess that little has been left out of this comprehensive study – though the 2006 Wraith Picket hoax is a glaring omission. David Carter and Anne Galligan will surely take post-2007 publishing issues into account before Making Books is reprinted. The editors will probably tackle the more recent ventures such as micropublishing which Antoni Jach defines as “an act of optimism – to bring words out into the light of day rather than remaining in the bottom drawer” (quoted in Simon Caterson, “From little ventures small wonders emerge”, The Age, 24 January 2009, A2, p.27 and online), along with the current ongoing heated debate on the jeopardizing of territorial rights, a protectionist regulation writers such as Peter Carey vocally champion. Far from closing the book on the publishing industry, Making Books helps readers to have an inkling of what is going on behind the scenes. Hats off to the editors and their contributors for this remarkable study which has found a cosy home on my bookshelves.

Jean-François Vernay is the author of Water From the Moon: Illusion and Reality in the Works of Australian Novelist Christopher Koch (2007), the first monograph on an Australian writer to be accepted and published through Cambria Press – a New York-based commercial publisher asking for no matching funds. This critically well-acclaimed scholarly book is currently held in 13 Australian libraries.

To purchase a copy of Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing:

mardi 20 octobre 2009

CONFERENCE : Reading Across the Pacific: Australian-United States Intellectual Histories

Dans le cadre des diverses opinions exprimées sur l'internationalisation des études sur la question australienne, je présenterai une communication à la conférence organisée par les Professeurs Robert Dixon et Nicholas Birns. Cette intervention portera sur la publication Antipodes et son rôle dans la promotion de la discipline sur un plan international. Cette année, la littérature australienne a eu le privilège de s'exporter grâce à l'initiative de trois personnes: Nicholas Jose qui a dirigé le Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature,

Peter Pierce qui vient de publier son ouvrage collectif The Cambridge History of Australian Literature

et votre serviteur, dont la deuxième monographie intitulée Panorama du roman australien a paru chez Hermann

Ces publications s'inscrivent dans le sillage de l'ouvrage dirigé par Nichoals Birns et Rebecca McNeer, A Companion to Australian Literature since 1900:

Voir ma recension à ce sujet:

Vous retrouverez les informations relatives à cette conférence ci-dessous:

Reading Across the Pacific: Australian-United States Intellectual Histories

Antipodes and the Globalisation of Australian Studies Through the Looking Glass of an “Outsider”

Since its very beginning in 1987 under Robert Ross’s editorship, the flagship journal of the American Association of Australian Literary Studies has basically stuck to the same formula: Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature publishes a careful balance of Australian fiction (poetry and fiction mainly) and non-fiction work (essays and reviews, along with interviews and miscellaneous items). Nicholas Birns, by taking over Robert Ross, has maintained this tradition of instilling into international readers the love of Australian literature and the determination of being kept updated with the latest trends in literary criticism. But more than just promoting Australian Studies, the Antipodes Editors have been mainly concerned with putting Australian literature on the world map by celebrating in their pages the works of critics from all around the world. One of the most obvious consequences was that Australian Studies were no longer the prerogative of Australian nationals.

My paper aims at exploring the fruitful exchanges between American scholars willing to globalise Australian fiction and Australian writers seeking new publishing opportunities overseas.

Jean-François VERNAY.


"First and foremost, I wish to address my heartfelt thanks to Pr. Robert Dixon for granting me a travel scholarship, which made it possible for me to present my paper at this high-caliber international conference. This financial aid is the first I have ever received within the 14 years I have spent researching Australian fiction. As such, I take it as being an additional token of recognition of my work, which – incidentally – is often perceived as that of an outsider.
When reviewing Water From the Moon, my monograph on Chris Koch’s fiction, C.A. Cranston declared it to be “a work by someone situated outside the literary and geographical context of ‘Australia’.” (Cranston 117) Not that she was trying to make an uncharitable observation of any kind, but every time an Australian scholar singles me out as a "French scholar" or anything else along these lines, I always find myself guilty of not having been born and bred in Australia. From such awareness derives the feeling that anyone writing in the field of Australian Studies beyond the boundaries of Australia would lack some kind of legitimacy."

Work Cited:

Cranston, CA. ‘Reviews’. JASAL 7 (2007): 116-21. Also available online.

To be continued on D-day.

jeudi 15 octobre 2009

Naissance d'une revue savante : Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies est une revue savante qui paraîtra en décembre 2009 sur les cultures postcoloniales publiée par Wright State University aux États-Unis. Le numéro inaugural sera consacré aux sociétés postcoloniales des Antipodes (Australie et Nouvelle-Zélande), sous la direction de Joel Gwynne qui enseigne à Nanyang Technological University, à Singapour.

Pour en savoir plus:

Journal Issue on the Postcolonial Cultures and Societies of Australia and New Zealand

The peer-reviewed quarterly Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies will be published online from Wright State University’s Lake Campus and will be published in limited print runs from the United States. The journal’s editorial board is being finalized but already includes academics from a truly international range of colleges and universities.

The journal will include articles of 4,000 to 7,000 words on all aspects of postcolonial cultures and societies, including the diasporic communities of Europe and North America. We invite submissions from a broad range of disciplines, including but not limited to business, communication, comparative studies, economics, education, fine arts, geography, history, language studies, literature, political science, regional studies, sociology, and rural and urban studies. Each issue of the journal will also include a section devoted to creative writing—fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. There are no restrictions on style or subject, except that the author should be a native of a postcolonial region or a member of a diasporic community or the subject should be related directly to the journal’s focus. We also invite photos and artwork, which should be submitted initially as low-resolution bitmaps.

Manuscript submissions should be made in Microsoft Word and sent to the editor O. P. Dwivedi at or

Inquiries are welcomed and should be addressed to the editor.

The first issue will be devoted, however, to postcolonial topics and issues related to the cultures and societies of Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, a section of the issue will be devoted to the literary works produced in the two nations since World War II. Articles, and creative work, for this issue should be submitted by September 30th 2009, to the Guest Editor, Joel Gwynne, at or, by post, to Joel Gwynne, English Language and Literature Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616. Inquiries on this first issue are welcomed and should be addressed to Dr. Gwynne.

Lastly, reviews of books, journals, audio-visual materials, and web sites related postcolonial studies are invited for inclusion in the database, Writing beyond the Margins, which will be maintained as a complement to the Journal of Postcolonial Culture and Societies at Wright State University’s Lake Campus. The reviews can range from 500 to 3,000 words and should be informative and evaluative, without being dismissive: that is, the reviewer should find some value in the work being reviewed, and we would prefer that the reviews be illuminating and thought-provoking, without being polarizing. The database’s co-editors are Martin Kich and O. P. Dwivedi. Reviews can be sent to, and materials for review can be sent to Martin Kich, English Department, Wright State University Lake Campus 7600 Lake Campus Drive, Celina, OH 45822.

mardi 13 octobre 2009

Nouvelle parution: Messengers of Eros

Bonjour à tous les lecteurs de blog!

Je viens de recevoir Messengers of Eros: Representations of Sex in Australian Writing, le dernier livre de Xavier Pons, Professeur à l'Université Toulouse-Le Mirail. Ce livre élégant à la couverture sensuelle, sinon aguicheuse, traite des représentations de la sexualité dans la littérature australienne. Le graphisme se présente comme une invite à la concupiscence tout en laissant présager que le lecteur ne fera qu'une bouchée de ces nourritures de l'esprit.
J'ai entamé la lecture au delà des pages introductives et je reconnais bien là le style de l'auteur: une formulation précise et une concision du savoir, un exposé logique et argumentatif au contenu quasi exhaustif et très documenté, tels sont les éléments clefs qui forgent la griffe des écrits de Xavier Pons. Un régal! A consommer sans modération.
Pour se procurer l'ouvrage, cliquez sur ce lien:

jeudi 8 octobre 2009

Exhibition : Ricky Swallow, The Bricoleur:

Ricky Swallow born Australia 1974, lived in England 2003–06, United States 2006– A sad but very discreet recollection of beloved things and beloved
2005 (detail) watercolour (1-10) 35.0 x 28.0 cm (each) Private collection © Ricky Swallow Photo: courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

16 October 2009 – 28 February 2010

“I’ve always been interested in how an object can be remembered and how that memory can be sustained and directed sculpturally, pulling things in and out of time, passing objects through the studio as a kind of filter returning them as new forms”

Ricky Swallow in Goth: Reality of the Departed World, Yokohama: Yokohama Museum of Art, 2007

A new exhibition featuring the work of internationally renowned Australian artist Ricky Swallow will open at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia on 16 October 2009.

Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur is the artist’s first major exhibition in Australia since 2006. This exhibition will feature several of the artist’s well-known intricately detailed, carved wooden sculptures as well as a range of new sculptural works in wood, bronze and plaster. The exhibition will also showcase two large groups of watercolours, an aspect of Swallow’s practice that is not as well known as his trademark works.

Salad days (2005) and Killing time (2003-04), which were featured in the 2005 Venice Biennale and are considered Swallow icons, will strike a familiar chord with Melbourne audiences.

Sculptures completed over the past year include bronze balloons on which bronze barnacles seamlessly cling (Caravan, 2008); a series of cast bronze archery targets (Bowman’s Record, 2008) that look like desecrated minimalist paintings; and carved wooden sculpture of a human skull inside what looks like a paper bag (Fig 1, 2008).

A highlight of the show will be Swallow’s watercolour, One Nation Underground (2007), recently acquired by the NGV. The work presents a collection of images based on 1960s musicians including Tim Buckley, Denny Doherty, Brian Jones and John Phillips.

Alex Baker, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV said the works in this exhibition explore the themes of life and death, time and its passing, mortality and immortality.

“Swallow’s art investigates how memory is distilled within the objects of daily life. His work addresses the fundamental issues that lie at the core of who we are, reminding us of our deep symbiotic relationship to the stuff of everyday life.”

“The exhibition’s title The Bricoleur refers to the kind of activities performed by a handyman or tinkerer, someone who makes creative use of whatever might be at hand. The Bricoleur is also the title of one of the sculptures in the exhibition, which depicts a forlorn houseplant with a sneaker wedged between its branches,” said Dr Baker.

Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV, said this exhibition reinforces the NGV’s commitment to exhibiting and collecting world-class contemporary art.

Ricky Swallow
born Australia 1974, lived in England 2003–06, United States 2006–
bronze, ed. 1/3
(1-2) 35.6 x 25.4 x 27.9 cm (each); (3) 30.5 x 22.9 x 25.4 cm; (1-3) (variable) (installation)
Private collection, Auckland
© Ricky Swallow
Photo: Courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

“The NGV has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Ricky Swallow, exhibiting and acquiring a number of his works over the years. His detailed and exquisitely crafted replicas of commonplace objects never fail to inspire visitors to the Gallery.”

Ricky Swallow was born in Victoria in 1974 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His career has enjoyed a meteoric rise since winning the NGV’s prestigious Contempora5 art prize in 1999. Since then, Swallow has exhibited in the UK, Europe and the United States, and represented Australia at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur is part of the Macquarie Group Series. The Macquarie Group Series comprises five exhibitions celebrating some of Australia’s leading contemporary sculptors and designers.

Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur will be on display from 16 October 2009 until 28 February 2010 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Open 10am–5pm, closed Mondays. Admission fees apply: Adult $10.00 / Concession $7.00 / Family $25.00 / Children $5.00.