Her short story collection was one of six books shortlisted for this prize, which is run by Readings, the Melbourne-based independent book chain.
The company’s online announcement, unveiled yesterday, describes the book as “a truly exciting work; Tan’s stories push the form, and offer a quixotic but penetrating look into our contemporary life. Her collection stood out to the judges for its originality, its clear and concise writing, and its humour – Smart Ovens for Lonely People is laugh-out-loud funny.”
As you may remember, I decided to read all the books on this list when it was first announced in late August. Typically, the only book I ran out of time to read (although I have a copy sitting on my bedside table) was this one!
All the others were extraordinarily good. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them. If they are any indication of the quality of Australian writing then our “industry” is in rude health.
Author Alice Robinson, who won the prize last year, was one of the judges this year. She said the “2020 prize shortlist constituted one of the most exciting collections of books I’ve seen elevated in recent years – both in terms of the diversity of their authors, and also in terms of the experimentation and intelligence inherent in the form, plot, subject matter and literary merit of each work. I would like every reader in Australia to pick up at least one of the books on this list – and, ideally, to read them all.”
Due to the pandemic, this year there was no prize-money or ceremony attached to the prize.