One item in the big pile of work I've just finished (hence no blogging for while now) is the review of a new novel by Venero Armanno, Candle Life. That's still under embargo, but while I'm thinking about it let me recommend his last novel, The Volcano, to anyone who hasn't read it. This book seemed to get the critical response it deserved only in Armanno's home state of Queensland, where it won the Premier's Prize in its year.
All of the major literary prizes have different chronological catchment areas so it's not easy to work out which would have been eligible for what in which year, but if my calculations are correct, The Volcano would have been up against some stiff competition for the 2002 Miles Franklin award -- Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish, Joan London's Gilgamesh and the winner, Tim Winton's Dirt Music, among others.
But I'm still very surprised that it didn't even make the shortlist. It deserves higher status as a contemporary classic: a rich, broad, deep, impassioned, rumbustious novel with overtones and undertones of magic realism firmly anchored (sorry, mixed metaphor, pah) in social and world history, with a wonderful cast of characters and a hero both lovable and memorable.