Monday musings on Australian literature: Ad hoc literary awards (1)

Wah! It’s Sunday night (as I write this), and I’ve suddenly realised that I’ll be out of town all Monday and Tuesday, so what to do about this week’s Monday Musings? Something quick, that’s what! So, I looked at my little list of ideas for something I could do fairly quickly, and noted one I’d titled “other literary prizes”. By this I meant literary prizes that I rarely cover here because they are not in the “literary” mainstream. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are not worth telling you about (though they can be tricky to track down). I’m numbering this post with (1) because, you never know, I might do another one, one day.

So, for this post, I am going to list some lesser-known (to me, anyhow) non-Australian awards that have been won by Australians. In other words, these are not of the Booker or IMPAC Dublin Prize variety.

Shaun Tan, Eric coverAstrid Lindgren Memorial Prize

An international children’s literary award established by the Swedish government in 2002 in the name of Sweden’s children’s author Astrid Lindgren (1907–2002). The award is made annually to people or organisations, recognising their contribution to children’s literature. Two Australians have one, Sonya Hartnett (whose adult novel Golden boys I’ve reviewed) and Shaun Tan (whose Eric I’ve reviewed.)

Betty Trask Prize and Awards

Established in 1984 for first novels (general fiction or romance) written by authors under the age of 35 who reside in a current or former Commonwealth nation. One author receives the main “Prize”, with runners-up receiving “Awards”. Australians who’ve won include Nick Earls (Award, 1998), Elliot Perlman (Prize, 1999, for Three dollars), Julia Leigh (Award, 2000), Chloe Hooper (Award, 2002) Evie Wyld (whose Miles Franklin Award winning All the birds, singing I’ve reviewed here, Award, 2010).

German Crime Fiction Prize (Deutscher Krimi Preis)

Peter Temple, TruthApparently Germany’s “oldest and most prestigious” literary prize for crime fiction. It has been awarded since 1985, and every year awards 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in two categories, National and International. Australian writer Gary Disher (whose book Wyatt Son Gums reviewed here) won 1st Prize in 2000 (with Kickback), in 2002 (with Dragon Man) and in 2016 (with Bitter Wash Road, on my TBR), and Peter Temple won 1st prize in 2012 with Truth (my review).

Montreal International Poetry Prize

A new biennial international poetry competition established in 2011. Poems are submitted online, and can come from anywhere in the world, but must apparently be in English (which is interesting given Montreal is in Quebec. Interesting too is the fact that the prize is “adjudicated by a board of 10 international editors, which changes every competition, but the winner is selected by a single judge”.  Anyhow, to date there have only been three awards, 2011, 2013 and 2015, with the first being Australian poet, Mark Tredinnick.

PEN Translates Award (English)

Established in 2012 “to encourage UK publishers to acquire more books from other languages.” It helps UK publishers to meet the costs of translating new works into English and ensures translators are “acknowledged and paid properly for their work”. So, it’s for something published (or to be published) in the UK, and in 2016 a winner was Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali. It was translated from the French by Australian translator (and Text Publishing staffer) Penny Hueston.

We don’t know much in Australia about how well our local writers “travel”, and awards like these aren’t always well-reported at home, so I’ve enjoyed discovering just who has been feted overseas. As with learning of Helen Garner and Ali Cobby-Eckermann winning the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes, it’s been eye-opening.

There! I’ve written a post, and I found it interesting to research. Hope it’s interesting enough for you too!

12 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Ad hoc literary awards (1)

  1. Very interesting, thanks WG. I like Peter Temple but lots of other authors mentioned that I know I should try. (I gave the grandkids a Shaun Tan but don’t remember its name)

    • Yes, I like Peter Temple too Bill – at least the two that I’ve read. I have read a couple of Shaun Tan’s books. He’s impressive in his openness to people adapting his work too.

  2. I’m delighted by the awards news today that Patrick Holland has been longlisted in the Dublin Lit Award for his novel One about the Kenniff brothers who were bushrangers. It was such a terrific book, beautifully written and thoughtful as well as being taut and exciting, but it wasn’t nominated for anything here, as far as I know, so I am rapt. See and down at the bottom there’s a link to Patrick’s explanation for why he gave it that strange title.

  3. The Astrid Lindgren prize first crossed my radar when Hartnett won it – mainly because the actual prize she ‘took home’ was over $800,000 !!!! There’s a prize worth winning.

  4. I have read the books that you mention that have won the Betty Trask Prize, but today is the first I have heard of the award. The Wheeler Centre are having a talking on the Most Underrated Book Award next Friday. I have booked to attend. Jane Rawson won it one year with the A Wrong Turn In the Office of Unmade Lists. (I love the title and I enjoyed the book).,

    • Oh good for you going to the MUBA Award Meg. That should be fun. I love that award too – and Rawson’s book. Like you I love her title and always love recommending the book, for that reasons as well as because it’s a great read!!

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