Debra Adelaide’s new collection of short stories intricately maps both the sublime and the mundane landscape of ordinary lives, with her trademark dark wit and luminous intelligence.
What the judges said:
“This is novelist Debra Adelaide’s first collection of short stories, and while readers will recognise her dry wit, quirky imagination and fundamental seriousness of purpose, it’s also clear that she has mastered the requirements of the short-story form. Adelaide’s sheer range is impressive, and there is no slick or same-y surface even to the most light-hearted of these stories. In ‘The Glory in the Flower’, an eminent English poet finds himself teaching a writing workshop in an Australian shed in the middle of nowhere and it gradually dawns on the reader that this is no ordinary poet. ‘The Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony’ is, apparently against all the odds, an optimistic love story. The grave and troubling title story, with its perfect pitch and its shocking denouement, is a story that should be required reading in all Australian schools and armchairs. And across this wide range, Adelaide brings to her work a thoughtful craftsmanship that skilfully matches voice and tone to subject matter.
Some of these stories address the writing life and inevitably those are the funniest and most ironic, relentlessly showing up some of the absurdities of a writer’s daily existence while titanic literary figures like Wordsworth and Emily Brontë dance across the pages. Other stories seem quirky and almost surreal but have a strong underlying social message, such as the off-beat and disquieting ‘Virgin Bones’. Here as in her previous books, Adelaide uses her fine technical skills in the service of powerful and committed social analysis, and focuses on the interconnectedness of public and private life.”