HNSA, in partnership with the ARA Group, recently announced the eight talented authors, and their outstanding novels, selected in the 2020 longlist for the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone was one of the novels featured in the longlist. We chat with Nigel below about why he entered the prize and what historical fiction means to him. You can also enjoy Nigel reading an excerpt from his book via the HNSA Youtube channel. Subscribe to hear more book readings from the longlist authors in the coming weeks.
“Set during and after the Second World War, this is a tender and beautifully written love story that challenges ideas about fathers and sons, masculinity and war.”~ Colin Falconer, Judge
What does being longlisted mean to you?
“Being longlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize is a shot in the arm, particularly in what has been a fairly challenging year for the arts and the book industry, as well as more broadly across the world. It is a vote of confidence and a wonderful moment of encouragement that my novel—Bodies of Men—has merit, and it’s a great opportunity for the book to reach a wider audience.”
Why did you enter the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize?
“The ARA Historical Novel Prize is a terrific new initiative to support and recognise the quality of historical fiction in Australia and New Zealand. The prize represents an opportunity to be part of the broader conversation about historical fiction and to recognise all the writers and readers that love the genre.”
Why do you think awards like this are important?
“Writing is a solitary business and publication is difficult— they say that only one in one thousand manuscripts is published. To be published is wonderful, as is being read, but to then be recognised by an award such as the ARA Historical Novel Prize is amazing. To have my book read by judges who appreciate historical fiction, and then have their stamp of approval, is a great moment.”
About Nigel Featherstone
Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer who has been published widely. His works include the story collection Joy (2000), his debut novel Remnants (2005), and The Beach Volcano (2014), which is the third in a series of novellas. He wrote the libretto for The Weight of Light, a contemporary song cycle that had its world premiere in 2018. He has held residencies at Varuna (Blue Mountains), Bundanon (Shoalhaven River), and UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He lives on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. For further information about Nigel:
About Bodies of Men
Egypt, 1941. Only hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, an Australian lieutenant at twenty-one, is face down in the sand, caught in a stoush with the Italian enemy. He is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney and the last person he expected to see. But where William escapes unharmed, not all are so fortunate.
William is sent to supervise an army depot in the Western Desert, with a private directive to find an AWOL soldier: James Kelly. When the two are reunited, James is recovering from an accident, hidden away in the home of an unusual family – a family with secrets.
Together they will risk it all to find answers. Soon William and James are thrust headlong into territory more dangerous than either could have imagined.
The ARA Historical Novel Prize shortlist will be announced on Wednesday, 28 October, with the prize winner to be announced by both video broadcast and live stream in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday, 10 November 2020.