UC book of the year 2014: jury and shortlist announced

14 June 2013: Renowned film critic and book lover Margaret Pomeranz will be one of the judges for the University of Canberra Book of the Year 2014.

Ms Pomeranz will join Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp for the first meeting of the judging panel today.

  • Media opportunity: The Jury will be available at 11.30am TODAY, at Semesters, building one, University of Canberra

The shortlist, announced today, is the following five novels, drawn from books that have been Commonwealth Prize Winners in the last three years.

  • Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka
  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V, by Jacques Strauss
  • The Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna
  • Room, by Emma Donoghue
  • The Town That Drowned, by Riel Nason

The winning book, to be announced in next month, will be selected based on its appeal to a wide audience, but particularly to school-leavers. It must also demonstrate the potential for the University to expand on important themes raised in the book in the social and educational life of the campus. The winning book will be given to all new 2014 students and university staff.

The full panel of judges is:

  • Mr Nigel Featherstone, award-winning author, previous manager of Arts Development ACT
  • Professor Nicholas Klomp, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (education), University of Canberra
  • Ms Penelope Layland, research student, University of Canberra
  • Emeritus Professor Satendra Nandan, University of Canberra
  • Ms Margaret Pomeranz, presenter, At the Movies, ABC Television
  • Professor Jen Webb, professor of arts and humanities, University of Canberra

The University of Canberra Book Project is in its second year. The inaugural book of the year, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey has been distributed to staff and new students since late 2012.

Professor Klomp said the book had featured in public readings and online discussions and been the ice breaker for countless conversations.

“Other universities around the world have a freshman or common reading program, where a book is chosen each year that all commencing students are encouraged to read, but this approach is new to Australia and adds yet another point of difference for our students,” Professor Klomp said.

“If you choose the right book it can appeal to students and staff in a range of disciplines, it has themes you can apply to almost any course and, importantly, you can guarantee your new students something in common with their peers and our staff.”

Ms Pomeranz said she was delighted to have been asked to join the judging panel.

“What I look for in either a film or a book is to be transported into a believable world that in some way enlightens me about life, love, history – the whole catastrophe. And the shortlisted books in the University of Canberra book project have all done that in some way. It's a joy to be part of it. My world has been expanded,” she said.

“Reading a book can be a very personal experience, but sharing it and talking about it makes it more rewarding, and this is what I really like about the University of Canberra book project.”