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Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2001 Women's Prize for Fiction

The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville


Publisher: Viking Books

Length: 415

About: Small town off-beat romance

Style: Third person

Where: Australia

When: 1990s



Publisher’s synopsis:

The Idea of Perfection is a funny and touching romance between two people who've given up on love. Set in the eccentric little backwater of Karakarook, New South Wales, pop. 1,374, it tells the story of Douglas Cheeseman, a gawky engineer with jug-handle ears, and Harley Savage, a woman altogether too big and too abrupt for comfort.
Harley is in Karakarook to foster "Heritage", and Douglas is there to pull down the quaint old Bent Bridge. From day one, they're on a collision course. But out of this unpromising conjunction of opposites, something unexpected happens: something even better than perfection.





Partly it was that the butcher was Chinese. She was no racist, and wanted him to know that she did not count it against him, him being Chinese. The trouble was, not wanting to be thought racist always seemed to make her too friendly. She could hear that her voice was a little too loud and a little too sprightly in the quiet shop. She smiled too much, and did not know how to stop. She was no racist, but noticed, every time he spoke, how he spoke exactly the way everyone else did....





...Grenville manufactures an extraordinary comedy of manners, made all the more powerful by her own reticence as a writer. Her key atmosphere, a little like that of Alan Bennett, is one of awkwardness.

The Guardian, Alice Cartwright, 9/6/2001


Not so good:

It is an oddly uneven book, however, sometimes dazzlingly lyrical, compassionate and smart, but occasionally arch and rather clumsy....These elements are only disappointing because the book, when on target, is so remarkably clear-sighted about, yet fond of, its quirky characters.

Publishers Weekly 1/4/2002



About the author

Kate Grenville (born 14 October 1950) She has worked as an editor of documentary films at Film Australia, a sub-editor of subtitles at SBS Television, and a teacher of Creative Writing.
In 2006 she was awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts by the University of Technology, Sydney under the supervision of Associate Professors Glenda Adams and Paula Hamilton.


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2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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