Shortlist year: 2016

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: HarperCollins Publishers


Forever Young is set against the tumultuous period of change and uncertainty that was Australia in 1977. Whitlam is about to lose the federal election, and things will never be the same again. The times they are a changing. Radicals have become conservatives, idealism is giving way to realism, relationships are falling apart, and Michael is finally coming to accept that he will never be a rock and roll musician.

About the author

Steven Carroll

Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Steven Carroll was born in Melbourne and grew up in Glenroy. He went to La Trobe University and taught English in high schools before playing in bands in the 1970s. In 2008, his Glenroy novel The Time We Have Taken won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award and the Age Book of the Year Award. In 2014, his novel A World of Other People was co-winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award.

Judges’ comments

Steven Carroll’s Forever Young continues his cycle of novels that began with The Art of the Engine Driver (2001). The sequence—often referred to as the Glenroy novels—explores the reshaping of Melbourne’s suburban landscape through the lives of a single family: Vic, Rita and their son Michael. This latest instalment is set in 1977, with the optimism and promise of the Whitlam years finally extinguished at the polls in December of that year. Mirroring the country’s loss of political innocence, Michael, now in his early 30s, begins to cast aside those things he associates with his youth—the music he plays with his band and his girlfriend Mandy—in preparation for a journey to France, ostensibly to write a novel. It is a year of change for many of the novel’s characters, with some enriched and others diminished by time’s march.

Throughout the Glenroy series, Carroll has forged a distinctly original style, fully on display here in Forever Young. Delivered in a prose that is at once rhythmic and repetitious, Carroll’s narrative continually circles back upon itself, allowing the reader to view events from multiple viewpoints, as if to show that time is anything but a straight line. Taking his title from a Bob Dylan song, Carroll’s novel explores the broader themes of nostalgia, place and longing; and the difficult, and sometimes painful, journeys we undertake in pursuit of growth and change.