Publication Details

Turcotte, G, In–Flight History: the Canadian–Australian Literary Prize and the Question of Nationalism, Meanjin, 54(2), 1995, 270–278. Original journal available here.


[Extract] .... the Canadian–Australian Prize may well be celebrating a shaky reality indeed, if the premise for the award is merely to showcase a mythical uniformity of landscape. The wide variety of winners over what is almost two decades contests this reading, if only because it continually redefines and problematizes what it means to be Australian or Canadian. In doing so it encourages its readers to acknowledge, and hopefully to celebrate, the value of multiplicity and difference. Despite this, as the prize approaches its second decade, and as its administrators in both countries decide whether or not the award will continue beyond this time frame, they will have serious questions to ask. Not just questions about whether the prize has achieved sufficient publicity, or successfully promoted the respective countries to each other (a legitimate enough query given the “goal” of the prize), but also whether it should continue to exclude French Canadian writers (or indeed any non-English writers in translation), whether indigenous writers have been given significant opportunity to be short-listed for the prize (none have won in eighteen years), and, in Australia’s case, whether women writers have had that opportunity as well (only two in nine years). Essentially, the question will be, has the Canadian–Australian Prize Committee done everything in their power to articulate the diversity of voices which speak beneath the aegis of Canadian and Australian nationalisms?