Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, 2014

As you know, I don’t report on every literary award announced throughout the year in Australia. There are way too many. But I did want to announce the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, partly because they are only awarded biennially. They were established in 1986. The fact that they are awarded biennially means of course that they draw on a larger pool than most of our literary awards.

Ten awards/fellowships were made this year, some of them for works and/or authors I don’t know, but here they are:

  • Premier’s Award: Frank Moorhouse, Cold light (my review). Coincidentally the first book in Moorhouse’s Edith trilogy, of which Cold light is the final book, won the 1994 Adelaide Festival Award. Cold light also won the Queensland Literary Prize last year.
  • Nonfiction: Kate Richards, Madness: A memoir. Richards’ memoir about living with psychosis for 10 years was also shortlisted for the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards Nonfiction prize.
  • Children’s literature: Catherine Jinks, A very unusual pursuit. Jinks is an established, multiple award-winning author of adult and children’s fiction in multiple genres, including science fiction and crime.
  • Young adult fiction: Vikki Wakefield, Friday Brown. Wakefield apparently won this award in 2012, also.
  • John Bray Poetry Award: Lisa Jacobson, The sunlit zone. This book was shortlisted last year for the inaugural Stella Prize. I have this book – a speculative fiction verse novel – in my sights. According to Wikipedia, the late John Bray was a lawyer, academic and published poet, and also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia.
  • Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award: Cassie Flanagan-Willanski, Here where we live. I recently reviewed the winner of this prize at the 2012 Festival, Margaret Merrilees’ The first week.
  • Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award: Phillip Kavanagh, Replay. The late Jill Blewett was a playwright. She was married to Labor politician, Neal Blewett, and tragically died when she was electrocuted. In 2012, Kavanagh won the Patrick White Playwright’s Award.
  • Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship: Jennifer Mills, Common Monsters. I haven’t read Mills yet, though I have her well-regarded Gone in my pile. She has won several awards for her short stories, and in 2012 was named one of Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists. I must get to that book! The late Barbara Hanrahan, author and artist, wrote the gorgeously evocative autobiographical novel, The scent of eucalyptus, which I’ve reviewed here.
  • Max Fatchen Fellowship: Catherine Norton (pseudonym for Helen Dinmoe), Falling. The late Max Fatchen was a journalist and children’s writer. The fellowship is, consequently, for writers for young people.
  • Tangkanungku Pintyanthi Fellowship for South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers: Ali Cobby Eckermann, Hopes crossing. Cobby Eckermann is an established indigenous Australian novelist and poet. She was a member of the stolen generation. She met her birth mother when she was 34, and started to connect with her culture from this time. This is the first time this award has been offered, and I understand that Tangkanungku Pintyanthi, from the Kaurna language, means ‘writing from the heart’.

Most of these authors are clearly well-established, but that doesn’t mean of course that they are flush with money.  Congratulations to them all, established or not. May their awards make a difference to their writing lives.

10 thoughts on “Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, 2014

  1. I don’t give a toss about prizes (I can’t understand why some crappy books win) but I think it’s great that an unpublished manuscript gets noticed.

    • Oh yes, Guy, the unpublished ms awards are particularly good, I agree. I’m always keen to see them though as they are often debut authors we then have to wait sometimes for a year or two to actually see the book. I’ve certainly read some interesting books from these awards.

      As I’ve said before, I tend to support awards because, subjective as they are, they are another way of providing support to authors. For that reason I like it best when they are spread around cos there can be just one good book a year, can there.

  2. I do like to know the Prize Winners, only because sometimes they introduce me to new reading. You mention Barbara Hanrahan, and to me she is one Australian writer who never received full recognition for her writings. Why do you think was so? Her books were short but great on imagery, and the stories were fascinating.

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