I only occasionally use my Monday Musings post to make awards announcements. Today is one of those occasions, because the Nib Literary Awards longlist was announced today and I did want to share it, as it’s one of Australia’s quieter but yet interesting awards.
I have written about it before and in that post you can read about about its origins and intentions but, in a nutshell, it celebrates “excellence in research and writing”. It is not limited by genre, though given the research focus, nonfiction always features heavily.
The Nib, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is managed by Sydney’s Waverley Council. It is, according to the email announcement I received, the “only major literary award of its kind presented by a local council”. Whether you like awards or not, this represents an impressive and meaningful commitment to Australia’s literary culture, wouldn’t you say?
Anyhow, the judges for the 2021 award are Katerina Cosgrove (author), Jamie Grant (poet and editor), and Lee Kofman (author and editor). They worked their way through 150 nominations, with their judging criteria being “high literary merit, readability and value to the community”.
- Bill Birtles‘ The truth about China: Propaganda, patriotism and the search for answers (nonfiction/political)
- Tanya Bretherton’s The husband poisoner: Suburban women who killed in post-World War II Sydney (nonfiction/true crime) (Kim’s review)
- Gabrielle Carey‘s Only happiness here: In search of Elizabeth von Arnim (biography/memoir) (on my wishlist) (Brona’s review)
- Alison Croggon’s Monsters: A reckoning (nonfiction/memoir) (on my TBR)
- Sarah Dingle’s Brave new humans: The dirty reality of donor conception (nonfiction/science)
- Richard Fidler’s The golden maze (nonfiction/history)
- Tim Flannery’s The climate cure: Solving the climate emergency in the era of COVID-19 (nonfiction/environment) (on my TBR)
- Anthony Ham’s The last lions of Africa: Stories from the frontline in the battle to save a species (nonfiction/environment)
- Kate Holden’s The winter road: A story of legacy, land and a killing at Croppa Creek (nonfiction/environment)
- Zoe Holman’s Where the water ends: Seeking refuge in Fortress Europe (nonfiction/refugees) (Lisa’s review)
- Ramona Koval’s A letter to Layla: Travels to our deep past and near future (nonfiction)
- Sarah Krasnostein’s The believer: Encounters with love, death & faith (nonfiction/religion) (on my TBR)
- Bri Lee’s Who gets to be smart: Privilege, power and knowledge (nonfiction/sociopolitics)
- Mark McKenna’s Return to Uluru (nonfiction/racial politics) (on my TBR) (Janine’s review)
- Tim Olsen’s Son of the brush (nonfiction/memoir)
- Dymphna Stella Rees’ A paper inheritance (nonfiction/biography)
- Rebecca Starford’s The imitator (fiction)
- Luke Stegemann’s Amnesia Road, landscape, violence and memory (nonfiction/history) (Janine’s review)
At 18 titles, this is a long longlist. Eleven of the 18 are by women, but beyond that it’s not a particularly diverse list in terms of authors. It would be great to see that change. However, thinking of “value to the community”, it does encompass several of our important contemporary political issues including the environment (climate change and species extinction), refugees, racial politics and difficult histories. Four books fall into the life-writing category. There is only one work of fiction, which is probably why very few of these books have been reviewed by the bloggers I follow. We are mostly a fiction-focused lot!
The shortlist will be announced in late September, with the overall Winner ($20,000) and the People’s Choice Prize being announced in November.
Do you have any thoughts on this list?