Steve Toltz’s dark comedy chronicling the misadventure of two best mates has won Australia’s only humour writing prize.
Toltz won the $10,000 biennial Russell Prize for Humour Writing for Quicksand (Penguin Random House Australia), selected from a diverse field of 48 entries.
Quicksand follows on from Toltz’s Booker-shortlisted debut novel, A Fraction of the Whole. The story — narrated by Liam, an aspiring writer-turned-policeman — chronicles the life of his friend Aldo Benjamin, an eternally optimistic ‘born loser’. As Aldo’s life disintegrates around him, his decline assuming mythic proportions, Liam’s quest for meaning assumes existential profundity and comic exhilaration.
The judges – Patti Miller, Lex Marinos and Sami Shah – praised Quicksand for the “beauty of its writing, the complexity of its insights and its sharp, intelligent, wise humour.”