I like the sound of this accolade. David Foster has won the 2010 Patrick White Literary Award, an annual prize currently valued at $18,000, set up by White using his Nobel winnings to honour writers who have made a significant, but inadequately recognised, contribution to Australian literature.
Over the past 30 years Foster has published 15 novels along with poetry, essays, non-fiction, scientific papers and radio plays. Now 66, he has 17 grandchildren, a doctorate in inorganic chemistry, is a drummer, motorbiker and a blackbelt in tae-kwondo. Until he earned a $60,000 grant from the Australian Council for the Arts Literature Board this year, he was delivering post in the Southern Highlands to support his current writing projects.
The SMH on Saturday said: 'Foster, who can be almost as grouchy as his late patron....said White intended it "as a kind of literary loser's compo"'.
No doubt White would have been pleased at Foster's win. In 1973 he wrote a line for the cover of Foster's debut work of fiction, North South West, and remarked of it 'One reason why I like Foster's novels is that he isn't afraid of sour milk and what's repulsive in life.'
Previous winners are John Romeril in 2008 and Gerald Murnane in 1999. Neither rings a bell? Exactly.