Afternoon Reception for the Presentation of the 2016 Roly Sussex Short Story Awards, Engilsh Speaking Union
Your Honour Justice Thomas; Mrs Garms, President of the English Speaking Union (Queensland); Professor Sussex, here to acknowledge his eponymous awardees; members of the Queensland Consular Corps; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are delighted to welcome the English Speaking Union to Government House this afternoon for what is, at its heart, a celebration of the short story, and I shall deliver what I hope you will assess to be a short speech! We particularly welcome Mr Cade Swanson, who, with his father, has come all the way from Tasmania to be here.
The English novelist Neil Gaiman, he even authored comic books, once said that, “Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.”
For the American writer and humourist Lorrie Moore, “A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.” I think that observation qualifies, Professor Sussex, as an aphorism!
Both writers seemed to me to capture the intensity of the short story and the way it can reveal truth about the world, and about life, and about both the author and the reader – often more so than non-fiction.
Once upon a time, pundits were predicting the death of the short story.
Yet, as our inimitable Roly Sussex once observed, and as reported in The Australian newspaper last year, the genre has been energized of late, perhaps due to the impact on the language of email and social media, and perhaps with the rise of the e-book, which restores some of the economics of short fiction to publishers.
I like to think of our own ESU, through the wonderful initiative of the Roly Sussex Short Story Awards, as playing a part in this renaissance, and thank you, Ms Garms, for your leadership of the ESU.
The awards are designed to “foster original creative writing of outstanding quality, including experimental, challenging or thought-provoking work’’.
They have more than achieved this objective, as the wonderful collection of short stories – from the 2015 Competition – which I am launching tonight, will attest.
Embracing different themes and different times, all the stories combine an economy of words with boundless ambition.
They are, in short, a great read, and I commend each of the winners on a tale well told.
Even more exciting is the fact that the 2016 winners match the 2015 for quality of writing, and it will shortly be my pleasure to present them with their certificates.
I thank and congratulate the English Speaking Union for their support for these awards and for promoting international understanding and human achievement through English.
It now gives me great pleasure, with gubernatorial licence, to split the infinitive, and in doing so, to officially launch this collection of the 2015 winner of the Roly Sussex Short Story Awards, and I am looking forward with enormous pleasure to presenting the 2016 awards.
I wish all recipients every success for their literary futures and thank them most warmly for sharing their stories with us.