I 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:
- 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’s Troppo (my review)
- Sarah Krasnostein’s The trauma cleaner (my review)
- Micheline Lee’s The healing party: A novel (Lisa’s review)
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 …
I 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.