Stephen Downes’s debut novel The Hands of Pianists was shortlisted for the 2022 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Judges described it as ‘extraordinary’. His recent short stories have been longlisted and shortlisted in prestigious UK prizes. Last Meal won the 2020 Fiction Factory prize. His non-fiction books include A Lasting Record (Harper Collins 2013), Blackie (Knopf 2003) and Paris on a Plate (Murdoch Books 2006). In other lives he covered a Middle East war for Agence-France Presse, reported on Iraq and covered a New Caledonian insurrection, wrote leading articles for The Age and the Herald Sun, was for several years a feature writer on The Age, and, as a freelancer, was renowned for decades as Australia’s toughest restaurant critic.