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2021 - Shortlisted
The 1940s are immortalised in the original satire Factory 19, an ambitious reimagining of a Tasmanian capital controlled by an eccentric billionaire art gallery entrepreneur who has made his fortune manipulating lotteries. It begins in Hobart in 2022 when billionaire Dundas Faussett establishes a factory as an industrial ark where its workers can live perpetually as though it is 1948, an idealised year before the post-industrial age in which computers and interconnected mobile devices dominate.
Political speechwriter Paul Richey develops ‘digital proximity anxiety’ and takes a job in management at the factory. Much of the humour comes from his account – which shifts from deadpan to demonstrative – of the Factory 19 setting, people, paraphernalia and nostalgia. Signalling a postmodern slant, a well-known graffiti artist even appears in character. A shift into the 1950s and beyond, with accompanying anachronistic behaviours, is scorned by the founders and leads to a war on digital and other addictions. Factory 19 is a witty and well-paced book that interrogates a big idea.