The titans are clashing over at Meanjin, and I’m surprised and pleased to see Joan London (who I know, like and admire) has upset three strong contenders: Michelle de Kretser (round 1), Helen Garner (round 2) and Kate Grenville (first semi-final).

When the tournament began, I would have expected the semi-finals to be a contest between the grand dead – probably Richardson or Stead – and the big-name living – probably Garner or Grenville. Both Helen Garner and Kate Grenville have substantial bodies of award-winning, critically-acclaimed work, and are deservedly some of Australia’s best-known and best-loved authors. Joan London has published two novels and three short story collections, and although she’s published internationally, is nowhere near as well-known as she deserves to be.

Hopefully, this tournament will go some way to changing that. The judge’s comments from each round all seem to register their surprise at how good she is, and how powerful the books are, as they work their subtle magic. Without a doubt, Joan is the dark horse of this competition.

While I still think The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney is going to be tough to beat, Joan could well pull off a major upset in the rounds ahead. Go HHR! Go JL!

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