Friday High Five: Doris Lessing, Richard Flanagan and Day Jobs

Richard Flanagan’s PM’s Literary Awards acceptance speech

Richard Flanagan followed his Man Booker Prize win for Narrow Road to the Deep North with a joint win of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Fiction last night (sharing the prize with Steven Carroll). In an extraordinarily generous move, he chose to donate his $40,000 prize to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. ‘Money is like shit, my father used to say. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and you can grow things. My book only exists because in that hellish place long ago the strong helped the weak.’ You can read his acceptance speech - and his rationale for donating his winnings - at the Guardian.

Bob Graham, who won the Prime Minister’s Prize for a Children’s Picture Book, donated $10,000 of his $80,000 win (for Silver Buttons) to the Asylum Seeker’s Resource Centre.

Writers and their day jobs

It may seem that writers are wealthy types, with all this generosity, but this is (as Richard Flanagan points out in his acceptance speech) far from the truth. On The Millions, novelist Emily St John Mandel reflects on her long experience of juggling a day job with her writing career - and talks to fellow writers about how they do it, and what the best balance is.

Obama learns to code

US President Barack Obama believes everyone should learn to code in this new digital world. And he’s done just that, becoming the first president to write a computer program. It’s a ridiculously simple one (it draws a square on the screen), but his point is that you start simple.

On being Doris Lessing’s good deed

Writer Jenny Diski was taken in by Doris Lessing at the age of 15, and lived with her for the next three years. The two writers have always had a pact not to write about each other (one Lessing essentially broke with various fictional versions of Diski), but now, after Lessing’s death and facing her own death, of cancer, Jenny Diski is writing her version of the story. And it’s darker, more complex, than the one Lessing told.

Fake Paris

A bizarre-seeming World War II military strategy designed to protect Paris from German air raids has been discovered. A fake Paris, located 15 miles outside the real city, was designed and partially built, in order to trick the Germans.

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