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Vanessa Berry and Brian Castro win at the 2018 Mascara Avant-garde Awards

Vanessa Berry and Brian Castro have each taken out first prize at the 2018 Mascara Avant-garde Awards for works published last year. Berry’s Mirror Sydney (recently longlisted for the ABIA awards), has topped the nonfiction category, and Castro’s Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria has won for fiction.

We also extend our congratulations to Oscar Schwartz, whose collection The Honeymoon Stage was shortlisted in the poetry category, and Ali Alizadeh, whose book The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc was shortlisted for fiction.

Read the judges’ comments on the two winning works below.

Described as an off-piste urban field manual, this book walks us through a psycho geography where alternative narratives find space between the icons, infrastructure, wharves and freeways. Historical layering, speculative flourishes and the rhetoric of maps shape the city’s ethical and hybrid possibilities. An extended meditation on time, space, history and urban subjectivity.

With its dark ironies and playful liberties of form there is mastery and joy in this verse novel. Castro’s musicality, anagrams and puns interpolate the banal with the absurd in 34 cantos that riff on The Divine Comedy as they tell the story of the last days of cancer fugitive and Adelaide architect, Lucian Gracq. This superb novel is innovative, thoughtful, comforting and profound.