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24 May 2017 1,537 views 2 Comments


A book set in a fictitious Queensland that seems frighteningly familiar is up for the country’s only award for humour writing which is held every two years.

Local writer Ian McFadyen and Sydney-based historian and author, Professor Ross Fitzgerald, collaborated on GOING OUT BACKWARDS, which is subtitled A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE. It has been short-listed for the 2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing which is run by the State Library of New South Wales.

The book is set in Mangoland and in it the protagonist, the shambolic Dr Professor Grafton Everest, becomes a politician and finds himself holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate. In the book the writers take aim at just about everything including minor political parties, the corporatisation of tertiary education, arts funding, medical science, anti-bikie legislation and climate change which is not nearly as dangerous as tectonic change in the book. I can confirm that this novel is absolutely hilarious and certain to offend just about everyone – which good satire should.

Professor Fitzgerald (who ran as the lead senate candidate for The Australian Sex Party in last year’s Federal election) says Grafton Everest isn’t him but is a metaphor for what he could be like if he let himself go. He is a former Brisbane resident famous for his histories of Queensland and is the author of 39 books. McFadyen is well known as the creator of the groundbreaking television shows ‘The Comedy Company’ and ‘Fast Forward’ and is a very funny man indeed. He lives on Brisbane’s bayside.

Their book is published by Melbourne outfit, Hybrid Publishers which congratulated the authors on their short-listing. They are up against five other books for the $10,000 prize, which will be announced at the State Library of NSW at 6pm on June 8.

sl.nsw.gov.au › about-library-awards/russell-prize-humour-writing

Phil Brown, The Courier-Mail, May 24, 2017.


  • Judges' comments: 'Going Out Backwards' said:

    2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing

    Judges’ comments: ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure’ by Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen (Hybrid Publishers)

    ‘Going Out Backwards’ is the fifth volume detailing the farcical adventures of a Queensland academic who finds himself holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate. How this eventuated is as much a mystery to Senator Everest as it is to everyone else. He is still obsessed with his penis, as his life and career continue to drag him through a series of preposterous adventures.

    For this latest outing, political commentator Ross Fitzgerald has enlisted the aid of comedy writer Ian McFadyen, and together they concoct a well-crafted political farce, replete with a cavalcade of ludicrous characters. The writers take aim at many targets and bullseye most of them as they pass by: minor political parties, the corporatisation of tertiary education, arts funding, medical science, natural remedies, anti-bikie legislation, obesity, sexual politics, and, inevitably, impotence (in various manifestations). The language is playful, cynical, and epigrammatic, as the novel moves with pace and an accelerating rhythm to its bizarre and satisfying conclusion.

  • Stephen Romei said:

    Which is the last funny book to win the Miles Franklin? I don’t mean funny-strange like Helen Demidenko’s ‘The Hand That Signed the Paper’ in 1995. I mean funny-funny. Peter Carey likes a joke, and his Dickensian riff Jack Maggs, the most recent of his three winners (1998), has sly and wry moments. But I think the last funny-funny winner came a year earlier with David Foster’s ‘The Glade Within the Grove’. You may well disagree with me on this, and as always I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

    I’m on this comic bent because this week the $10,000 Russell Prize for Humour Writing went to Steve Toltz for his bromantic novel ‘Quicksand’. “Toltz scales comedic peaks and plumbs despairing troughs,” the judges said. ”[His] words serve as a scalpel to reveal the absurd beneath the veneer of serious existence.” Toltz’s previous novel, ‘A Fraction of the Whole’, which is also funny, and insightful, was longlisted for the 2009 Miles and shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.

    The biennial Russell Prize, our only award for humour writing, is a new one, with Bernard Cohen the inaugural winner in 2015 for his novel ‘The Autobiography of Robert F. Menzies’.
    This year’s diverse shortlist included Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen’s Grafton Everest novel ‘Going Out Backwards’, volume two of David Hunt’s ‘True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia’, Darrell Pitt’s sci-fi spoof ‘A Toaster on Mars’, Ben Pobjie’s irreverent ‘Error Australis’ and Rosie Waterland’s memoir ‘The Anti Cool Girl’. Congratulations to all.

    Stephen Romei, ‘The Weekend Australian’, June 10-11, 2017, review, Books p 17

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