Category Archives: Literary Awards

No longer the ‘smart state’ or Axing the Qld Premier’s Lit Awards in the National Year of Reading

‘There will be no net loss to Arts funding under a government I lead’ is basically what Campbell Newman and the LNP team promised during the recent Queensland state election.

Within two weeks of taking office they have broken that promise.

The awards that gave us stories like Rabbit Proof Fence are no more.

Late yesterday, word spread through social media that the premiere literary awards in Queensland, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, are being axed as part of ‘cost-saving’ measures — (updated) during the National Year of Reading and Aussie Author Month too.

They have not yet mentioned where the approximate $250,000 saving will go.

One pundit helpfully pointed out that this amount of money would pay for 37.5cm (or about a foot) of the Clem7 tunnel.

CEO of Queensland Writers Centre Kate Eltham is leading the push for the savings to be re-invested into emerging writing.

Call me cynical, but I doubt that this will happen.

It feels more like a not-very-stealthy way of gutting government funding for the Arts in Queensland. Something the sector has had severe misgivings about for more than a year now as the prospect of the LNP government became more real.

As John Birmingham put it this morning, it feels more mean-spirited than anything.

I was born in Queensland and grew up in the 1980s with an American father who continually pointed out how ‘backwards’ Queensland was.

Yet, in a country school that prioritised all forms of sport over the arts, I received a cultural award named after the politician who became the Police Minister in the aftermath of the Fitzgerald Inquiry and was later a Queensland Premier (albeit for only 73 days), Russell Cooper.

I then went on to achieve an honours degree with a creative writing thesis and have since picked up a book contract in non-fiction; Australian military history no less.

So, my heart drops and my insides are turned out by this announcement.

I see the hope that a state which recently prided itself on competing with the Prime Minister to host the richest literary prize in the country being squashed.

The loss of an award with 14 categories that crossed the writing spectrum — poetry, short and long fiction, non-fiction,  history, science, advancing public debate, children’s and young adult, scriptwriting for  film, drama and television, for established, new and indigenous writers —  is a devastating blow to creative practice and cultural enrichment in Queensland and Australia.


**UPDATE (about no. 17)**

Wrap-up of coverage:

Things you can do:


** What do you think about Campbell Newman’s economic decision-making so far? **




A Wrap-up of Australian Non-fiction Award Winners in 2011

It’s that time of year: where news outlets produce copious montages and interviews reflecting on the year that has been, while individually we wonder what happened to the new year’s resolution we made more than eleven months ago.

In the spirit of the season, and to help raise the profile of the craft of non-fiction writing generally, let’s review the non-fiction winners of 12 of Australia’s literary and history prizes and awards for 2011.

The list is generally dominated by biographies and autobiographies of historians, architects, sports people, politicians and migrants, as well as stories of communities affected by cultural challenges and tragic events.

So, the non-fiction book award winners for 2011 are (in chronological order of announcements, starting with the most recent) *drum roll*:

Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History (winners announced 1 Dec 11):

–      A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W K Hancock by Jim Davidson  and Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder in the Great War by Peter Stanley

Walkley Nonfiction Book Award (winners announced 27 Nov 11longlist):

–      King Brown Country: The betrayal of Papunya by Russell Skelton

Colin Roderick Award (winners announced 26 Oct 11, shortlist): though not strictly a non-fiction award, a non-fiction book won it again this year:

–      Worst of Days: Inside the Black Saturday Firestorm by Karen Kissane

Western Australia Premier’s Book Awards (winners announced 30 Sep 11):

–      Category: Non-fiction: A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W. K. Hancock by Jim Davidson

–      Category: State Library of WA: WA History Award: Vite Italiane: Italian Lives in Western Australia by Dr Susanna Iuliano

Victorian Premier Literary Awards (winners announced 6 Sep 11, shortlist):

–      Category: Nettie Palmer Prize for Nonfiction: An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna

Queensland Premier Literary Awards (winners announced 6 Sep 11):

–      Category: Non-Fiction Book Award: An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna

–      Category: History Book Award – ­­Faculty of Arts, University of Queensland: Northern Voyagers: Australia’s monsoon coast in maritime history by Alan Powell

New South Wales Premier’s History Awards (winners announced 5 Sep 11):

–      Category: General History Prize: Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robertson and Graham White

The Age Book of the Year (winners announced 25 Aug 11 [Matilda blog]):

–      Category: Non-fiction: A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W. K. Hancock by Jim Davidson

The Australian Centre Literary Awards (Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne — winners announced 2 Sep 11):

–      Category: Peter Blazey Fellowship: Helen Ennis

–      Category: Asher Literary Award: this one’s for a female writer whose work carries an anti-war theme and I’ve included it because of my personal bias towards military history: The Old School by PM Newton (crime novel) and Ruin by Roberta Lowing (poems about Iraq war)

–      Category: Ernest Scott Prize for History (winners announced Aug 11): A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa and how it led to the Settlement of Australia by Emma Christopher and A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W K Hancock by Jim Davidson

Australian Book Industry Awards (winners announced 25 Jul 11):

–      Category: General Non-Fiction Book of the Year: True Spirit by Jessica Watson

–      Category: Biography of the Year: The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (which also won Book of the Year) and How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (winners announced 8 Jul 11):

–      Category: Non-fiction: The Hard Light of Day by Rod Moss

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards (winners announced 20 May 11 [ANZ Litlovers Blog]):

–      Category: The Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction (which also won Book of the Year): Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by Margaret Simons

–      Category: National Biography Award: Grand Obsessions: The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin by Alasdair McGregor


So, as it’s the Christmas season, do you take into consider whether a book has won an award when buying books?




%d bloggers like this: