The story of artist Gwen John makes ALS Gold Medal longlist

Goldie Goldbloom’s tale of artist Gwendolen Mary John, titled Gwen, has been longlisted for the prestigious ALS Gold Medal. The medal is awarded annually by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year.

Gwen, which is also shortlisted in the fantasy category of the 2017 Aurealis Awards, has been called ‘startling and beautiful’ and ‘a ravishing achievement’. Describing the moment she heard the news, Goldie said, ‘Sometimes I fall asleep sitting up and keep talking and dreaming as if I am awake. I thought I’d fallen asleep and dreamed the news.’

Goldie has won a number of awards for her writing in the USA but said to be recognised at home counted for much. ‘I think well-respected prizes like the ALS Gold Medal can guide readers to phenomenal books. If I read the longlisted books for some of the major prizes (and I do), I’m more likely to discover new writers, complicated ideas, beautifully imagined worlds and well-researched history. At least for me, an award or a prize or a longlisting is a signpost, like those old-fashioned pointing fingers, leading me to writers I haven’t met yet,’ Goldie said.

The ALS Gold Medal was inaugurated by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. More information about the award is available from their website here.

Gwen is a novel that takes place at the turn of the century, when artist Gwendolen Mary John travels from London to France with her companion Dorelia. Surviving on their wits and Gwen’s raw talent, the young women walk from Calais to Paris. In Paris Gwen steps out from the shadow of her overbearing brother Augustus and seeks out the great painter and sculptor Auguste Rodin. Gwen becomes one of Rodin’s many models and muses while she continues to defy convention by creating her own masterpieces in paint. Gwen is available in all good bookstores and online.

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