The Australian National University and Australian Book Review invite you to an evening with Theodore Ell, winner of the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize. Dr Ell (an honorary lecturer in literature at ANU) will be in conversation with Beejay Silcox, another Canberra writer and a past ABR Fellow.
The subject of Theodore Ell’s award-winning essay, ‘Façades of Lebanon’, is the massive explosion on 4 August 2020 when a port explosion devastated Beirut and shook a nation already teetering on the brink of economic collapse.
Dr Ell was living there at the time with his diplomat partner. ‘Façades of Lebanon’, represents reportage at its very best. The Calibre judges – Sheila Fitzpatrick, Billy Griffiths, and Peter Rose, Editor of ABR – chose the essay from a record field of 638 essays from 28 different countries.
This was the fifteenth time that ABR has presented the Calibre Prize, now one of the world’s major prizes for an original essay.
Theodore Ell studied literature and modern languages at the University of Sydney, spent time in Florence for archival research, and was awarded a PhD in 2010. For several years he worked freelance as an editor, translator and researcher, work that culminated in his book A Voice in the Fire (2015), which brought to light unknown Italian anti-fascist writing. In 2018, he accompanied his wife on a diplomatic posting to Lebanon, and while living in Beirut, they survived the port explosion of August 2020. Returning to Australia in early 2021, they settled in Canberra once again. Theodore’s non-fiction and translations have been published in Australia, Italy, and the United Kingdom. He is an honorary lecturer in literature at the Australian National University.
Beejay Silcox is an Australian writer, literary critic and cultural commentator, and the recipient of ABR’s Fortieth Birthday Fellowship. Her award-winning short fiction has been published at home and internationally and recently anthologised in Meanjin A-Z: Fine Fiction 1980 to Now, and Best Summer Stories 2018. Her story ‘Slut Trouble’ was commended in the 2016 Jolley Prize and republished in Best Australian Stories 2017.