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London, Ep. 50


May 29, 2015 — To celebrate our 50th-ever LDM in London we headed to the gorgeous, rarely-seen chapel at King's College London for our Australia & NZ Festival of Literature & Arts spectacular that ended in a blaze of brilliance as Selina Tusitala Marsh narrowly toppled Omar Musa in an Author Jumble to win Marsh the LDM London, Ep. 50 crown. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with Paul Ewen (New Zealand), comic novelist, who read from his brilliant novel How To Be A Public Author, about Francis Plug going around to lit ceremonies to speak to famous authors (Margaret Atwood featured prominently). Next up was Omar Musa (Australia), poet, rapper, author of The Clocks and Parang, who performed a genius piece about feminism, inequality, the empire and transgressions in Australia.

The mic was then handed to the night's trio of all-star judges: Stella Duffy, writer, theatre-maker, author of 13 novels including The Room of Lost ThingsSarah Kendall, award-winning comedian and Perrier Award finalist; and Tim FitzHigham, Perrier nominated, multi-award winning comedian, explorer, presenter, author. Duffy heralded Musa's pronunciation of the word "towel" while Kendall likened Ewen's excerpt to Days of Thunder, while Musa's work reminded her of Sam Neill's performance in Jurassic Park. FitzHigham praised Musa's use of the word "the" 39 times. It was an impossible decision between the two, but after a difficult deliberation they announced Musa was the night's first finalist. 

Then the night blazed into Round 2, led off by Duncan Sarkies (New Zealand), playwright, screenwriter (Two Little Boys, Scarfies), author of Demolition of the Century, who read a pitch-perfect tale about a man keeping a hostage in a retirement village, which featured a viewing of the musical Annie. Finally, it was Selina Tusitala Marsh (New Zealand), poet, scholar, author of Fast Talking PI, who blew minds with poetry that subverted the white, colonial male gaze in gobsmacking fashion. 

Then LDM Creator Adrian Todd Zuniga and LDM Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi took center stage, announcing the wild finale: an Author Jumble that featured a series of author names that were mixed up, with the finalists racing the clock to get them in order. Musa was on fire early, before Marsh struck back. But with everything on the line, Marsh was slightly quicker to de-scramble her author's name, winning her the LDM London, Ep. 50 medal, and literary immortality to go with it.