Saturday, November 7, 2009

Anita loves Miller's LOVESONG...

I’m a huge fan of Alex Miller and it’s not because there’s a character in his novel Landscape of Farewell that bears some slight resemblance to me – she’s happens to be a feisty, Koori women in Sydney and her name is Vita!

I actually fell in love with Alex’s writing when the late Andrea Stretton whom we all miss dearly, introduced me to Journey to the Stone Country some years ago. That book, which won the Miles Franklin Award in 2003 - is one of the closest reads I’ve had to the great Australian novel.

I wasn’t surprised then this morning, when I checked out Alex’s agent page on AustLit: the Australian literary resource, that there were so many awards, shortlists and longlists noted. Truth is, it would be impossible for me to read them all out here today. But I think it’s important to share a few:

* Alex has won the Miles Franklin twice for Journey to the Stone Country as mentioned, and the Ancestors Game in 1993. He also won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Overall Best Book Award) in 1993 for The Ancestors Game. Alex may or may not want to share the experience of winning that award; it is indeed an interesting story.
* He was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award for Landscape of Farewell in 2008 and The Sitters in 1996.
* He won the NSW Premiers Literary Award – Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in 2001 for Conditions of Faith.
* In 2008, Alex was awarded the Manning Clark Cultural Award for an outstanding contribution to the quality of Australian cultural life.
* This year, He won the Annual Foreign Novels 21st Century Award for Landscape of Farewell.
And he has been named as a finalist for the prestigious Melbourne Prize for Literature.
And that’s not even half Alex’s literary accomplishments.
I’m sure the list will grow with his latest masterpiece, LOVESONG – a complex story with a rather uncomplicated message: ‘Love is not simple.’ Infact, love, as seen in the novel, is really freaking complicated. I found myself, like you will as readers, in this story, because the one thing we share as human beings, regardless of heritage, socio-economics, geography, age, gender, political persuasions and so forth – is our ability to love and be loved. Whether it is love for one’s father, unconditional love for one’s children (and would be children), love for one’s partner, or in fact love for oneself. We all have the capacity to love.

So anyone who has lied for love, kept quiet for love, sacrificed for loved, and simply believed in the power of love, then you will, love this novel. There are also some tips for women seeking true love, my favourite being when Café owner Houria is teaching her niece Sabiha to cook, she says – ‘For a woman to understand the art of spices is as important as it is for her to understand the arts of love. With these accomplishments she will never lose her man, even when she loses her youth and her looks, I promise you!’ Perhaps I need to learn to cook then!

I adored LOVESONG the minute I received it. It has a gorgeous cover that everyone I mention this book to comments on. And it’s a hardback. This book did not go to the beach with me. This is the kind of book I treasure as a sacred gift.

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