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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Peter Carey mentioned a new book set in coastal Queensland. He has (just finished?) been working on it and the location is an area he knows well, he said.

This exciting news aired on ABC 702 Sydney this morning during an interview with Adam Spencer. He also answered a couple of curly ones about his wife. The interview was in response to the announcement that Carey's most recent novel, Theft: A Love Story, secured the coveted Christina Stead Prize for fiction.

Stead spent many years in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Columbia Encyclopedia gives more info than other sites. "She worked in the United States in the 1940s, emigrated to England in 1953, then returned to Australia in 1974," it says.

Also announced today was the award of the Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction to Robert Hughes for Things I Didn't Know. Like Carey, Hughes lives in New York.

Carey told Spencer that the winning novel was in no way autobiographical. Last year accusations by his ex-wife caused a stir. He has consistently denied any suggestion that he targeted Summers in the book.

His protagonist, 'Butcher' Bones, he said, grew up in a family that retailed meat while he was educated at Geelong Grammar, a prestigious private institution near Melbourne. He gave Bones the same birth date as himself, he said, because it was convenient to do so, from his perspective as a writer. With this aide-memoire, he said, he could imagine what Bones and members of his family were doing in any particular year.

He praised Hughes, and said he met him about once a year. He said Hughes was a great writer.

Summers also promised a book, back in November, but we've heard no news of a release. So far.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) retails recordings of its interviews, but they cost $44 each. If you're interested in this one, it aired at about 7.45am today.

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