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Kibble and Dobbie Literary Awards 2018 Shortlists announced

June 5, 2018

Maxine Beneba Clarke, The hate raceI don’t regularly report on every Australian literary award – there are just too many – but as a supporter of Australian women writers, I’ve long been interested in the Nita B Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers (a mouthful, eh?) They comprise two awards: the Kibble ($30,000) for established writers, and the Dobbie ($5,000) for debut authors. These awards were established in 1994 by Nita Dobbie, in the name of her aunt Nita Kibble who was the first woman librarian at the State Library of New South Wales. Dobbie, who was brought up by her aunt, followed her into librarianship, and shared her love of Australian women’s writing. The awards are now awarded biennially.

Besides being restricted to female authors, the awards are specifically for “life writing”, which is very broadly defined and can include both fiction and non-fiction. So, the shortlists:

Helen Garner, Everywhere I lookThe Kibble Award:

  • Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The hate race (my review)
  • Michelle de Kretser’s The life to come (scheduled for my reading group in July, but Lisa has reviewed)
  • Helen Garner’s Everywhere I look (my review)
  • Fiona McFarlane’s The high places (I should read this, given it’s a short story collection and has been so well reviewed).

As much as I love The hate race, and believe that de Kretser’s book and McFarlane’s are excellent, I would love to see Garner win because Everywhere I look is a wonderful read, and because Garner has, arguably, set the benchmark for contemporary life-writing in Australia, across multiple forms.

Madelaine Dickie, TroppoThe Dobbie Award:

You can see both the longlist and shortlist online at the Trustee’s website. As always I could argue the toss about books that were or weren’t long- and short-listed, but …

Sarah Krasnostein, The trauma cleanerI can’t remember when I’ve last read a significant proportion of the books shortlisted for an award, so I’m particularly thrilled about these two lists! Moreover, as those of you who read my post on Troppo know, its listing is exciting for my reading group because Dickie is the daughter-in-law of one of our founding members (albeit, unhappily for us, she’s moved out of state now.) Given the number of debut books published over the last two years, it’s a wonderful achievement (for her, and the other two writers) to have been shortlisted.

This year’s judges are the literary critic Elizabeth Webby, State Library of New South Wales representative Rachel Franks, and the author Eleanor Limprecht (whose Long Bay and The passengers I’ve reviewed here.) The winners will be announced on July 25.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2018 18:25

    Well you’ve done much better than me this time!

    • June 5, 2018 18:28

      Haha, Lisa, I realised that – there are some great books there but not your favourite forms [or authors ;-)]! Some interesting gaps too though …

      • June 5, 2018 19:08

        No, I’m not so keen on memoir though I do like a good literary biography:)

        • June 5, 2018 22:06

          Only one of those is Memoir – The hate race. I don’t mind memoir if it’s not self-indulgent. The hate race is one of those stories that needs to be told – I think, and because Maxine Beneba Clarke is also a poet and short fiction writer, it is written with some style. But, as you know I know, there’s just so much to read!

        • June 6, 2018 08:23


  2. June 5, 2018 23:07

    Ive read three off the Kibble shortlist… 😊

    • June 5, 2018 23:10

      It’s a nice feeling isn’t it kimbofo! A rare one for me to have read half or more of a shortlist!

      • June 6, 2018 01:19

        Yes, it doesn’t happen very often… usually because the books haven’t been published in UK.

        • June 6, 2018 01:36

          Unfortunately, I can’t use that excuse. I just don’t get as much time to read as I’d like. For example in the last two days I’ve managed to read about 30 mins. Terrible. You don’t get through many books at that rate.

        • June 6, 2018 04:40

          I’m similiar… I tend to only read on weekends these days… by the time I get home after writing / reading content all day I just want to give my eyes (and brain) a rest.

        • June 6, 2018 08:28

          Fair enough, but I’m retired! I had hoped to read more, but it’s not really happening!

  3. meg permalink
    June 6, 2018 17:15

    Hi Sue, I haven’t read Troppo but I would like Garner to win. She is so honest, and her writings are so rewarding. I also hope Krasnostein wins. Her research and dedication to Sandra’s story is fascinating. Retirement is great even though I am not reading as many books. I am reading more newspaper articles and googling more!

    • June 6, 2018 17:25

      You’re not reading as many books either Meg? What’s wrong with us. I am so busy, that I just don’t get the “real” book reading time. Some days I only manage 30 mins before bed! I read more when my kids were little and I could read while they were at music lessons etc. Some women would rush home, do a bit of housework, and come back, but not me. I’d sit, and read!!

      • Meg permalink
        June 6, 2018 19:54

        Hi Sue, I only now read at night after dinner or early morning. Like you, I am now involved in so many things I am never home much during the day. Though, when I house and dog sit for family in Queensland and soon in Tasmania for a month I will read more books. Only a dog and chooks to distract me!

        • June 6, 2018 21:56

          Ah, that’s what I need – house-sitting in a different town to my own.

  4. June 7, 2018 02:45

    How exciting that you have read so many of the books on the awards lists. I count myself pretty pleased if there are two books on a list that I’ve read!

    I have to say your post title threw me off momentarily. In the U.S. people sometimes call dry dog food kibble and for I second I was puzzled over what dog food had to do with literary awards 😀

    • June 7, 2018 10:02

      Haha Stefanie… that’s right. I knew that term too, but of course knowing these awards we’ll I was not in any other context!

  5. June 8, 2018 09:45

    I think that reading most books short listed for any award is impressive. I should find an award and try to do it. I like the fact that these awards apply to both fiction and non fiction.

    • June 8, 2018 22:01

      Thanks Brian. Yes, I agree that it’s great for an award to be broad like this. Our Stella Prize, which is also for women writers, is open to all forms of writing, all genres.

      And yes, I’d like more frequently to have read more of shortlists – though I suppose if I REALLY wanted to I could change my priorities!!

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