Nominated by:

The State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

The National Library of Australia, Canberra

The State Library of Western Australia, Perth

State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publisher of nominated edition:

Random House Australia

The Golden Age

Joan London    

2016 longlist

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Home in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.

The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs: love and desire, music, death, and poetry. It is a place where children must learn they’re alone, even within their families.

Written in Joan London’s customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year award, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, won the Christina Stead Prize for fiction. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age is her third novel.

Librarians’ Comments

This is a beautiful, lyrical work that with a deceptive simplicity evokes 1950’s Australia during the polio epidemic. A quiet masterpiece.

An Eminent author. The Golden Age is on the longlist for the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the 2015 Stella Prize Shortlist.

Set in 1954, the narrative takes place in a Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital called The Golden Age. The protagonist is Frank Gold a refugee from wartime Hungary who is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. It is here where Frank meets Elsa and the two form a passionate, yet forbidden bond. The subject matter of the book, although deeply unsettling, is skilfully treated by London to craft a story that explores the family’s experience of the Holocaust, their exile to Australia and ultimately the son’s contraction of a crippling disease which devastates them. Joan London’s mature approach to the subject matter takes readers on a journey through the lives of these characters and the result is a book which is ultimately life affirming. As one of Australia’s fine writers of fiction, Joan London has produced a deeply moving portrait of a little discussed chapter in Australia’s history. The book has been recognised in writing circles across Australia and has been nominated for six literary prizes including: Miles Franklin Literary Award (longlist), Stella Prize (shortlist), and Christina Stead Prize for fiction (shortlist).

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