Winners and finalists

Congratulations to the 2018 winners and finalists. 

Awarded to an outstanding work, by an Australian writer, focused on documenting, discussing or highlighting a uniquely Queensland story.

Prize $25,000

Winner               

We'll Show the World: Expo 88 (UQP) by Jackie Ryan

Judges’ comments

Jackie Ryan provides the definitive account of World Expo 88. Meticulously researched, this book describes the ‘behind the scenes’ political manoeuvring leading up to the event, and the challenges in ensuring that the Expo site on the south bank of the Brisbane River was retained as a public space for future generations. We’ll Show the World captures the ways in which Expo contributed to Queensland’s evolution from an inward-looking state to one that embraced a more cosmopolitan sense of itself.

Finalists              

  • The Saltwater Story (Cairn Tor Books) by Benjamin Allmon and David Kelly
  • Please Explain (Penguin Random House) by Anna Broinowski
  • White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon (CreateSpace) by Barbara Miller
  • Brisbane Houses with Gardens (Beth Wilson) by Beth Wilson

Awarded to three (3) established Queensland authors to advance a writing project over a 12-month period.

Prize: three Fellowships of $15,000 each

The Queensland Writers Fellowships are supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland; State Library of Queensland; and Crowd Giving 2018 donors through the Queensland Library Foundation. Queensland Writers Fellowships are administered by Queensland Writers Centre.

 

2018 Winners              

Michael Gerard Bauer

Gaps and Silences is a Young Adult novel that takes place over one long, hot Queensland summer holidays when a 14 year old boy is forced to confront and question the unknowns and mysteries of life, along with his image and understanding of himself, in a way that will change him forever

Judges’ comments 

The panel members were equally drawn to Michael’s project which seeks to explore how we fill the ‘gaps and silences’ we create as we craft and re-craft the stories that help us make sense of our own existence. Queensland’s children’s and YA authors have a reputation for tackling challenging subject matter, and Michael’s project seeks to build on that legacy as well as challenge his own identity as a children’s and YA author.

Laura Elvery

Medallion is a collection of eighteen short stories based on the lives, work and influence of the Nobel Prizes for science that have been awarded to women, beginning with Marie Curie’s first of two medals in 1903. Each story takes a different approach in timeframe, character and narrative separation from the scientists, seen through domestic, physiological and geographical lenses.

Judges’ comments

Laura’s project has an intriguing literary challenge at its heart - build a cohesive short story collection based on the lives of the 18 women who have won the Nobel Prize for science. While a range of new titles highlight the real contribution of women scientists, Laura’s fiction project will explore their imagined reach.

Jackie Ryan

Alfred Russel Wallace: Optimist and Dissenter is about Alfred Russel Wallace who was, and seems destined to remain, ‘the other one’. In a historic flash of insight in 1858, he formulated a theory of evolution that was almost identical to one that Charles Darwin had been quietly working on for twenty years. In an equally historic flash—this time of unwelcome enthusiasm—Wallace committed this theory to paper and sent it ‘by the next post to Mr. Darwin, in the full expectation that it would be as new and startling a revelation to him as it had been to myself.’ Darwin was indeed startled. Their papers were delivered as a joint presentation. But joint acclaim did not follow, a fact made most evident in the name by which their theory came to be known: Darwinism. The Victorian scientific community partially erased Wallace’s efforts when it became apparent that he was not interested in science so much as the extent to which information gleaned through it could advance humanity in moral and ethical terms. This book seeks to redress the balance by examining his work and his treatment in the context of his time, and by removing some of the scientific strictures through which his contributions have previously been judged.

Judges’ comments

Jackie has a proven capacity to tackle subjects in which thousands of everyday punters have a personal stake. The panel members are keen to see how the author will step up and into a space with higher stakes and where erasure has played a significant role in defining scientific, public and political discourse, and myth.

Queensland Writers Fellowship past recipients

Read more about the success of the Queensland Writers Fellowships here

Awarded to two (2) outstanding Queensland writers up to 30 years of age.

Prize: two awards of $10,000 plus career development support to the value of $2,500 each

Winners             

  • Anna Jacobson
  • Bri Lee

Judges’ comments

Anna Jacobson’s interdisciplinary work and bold collage poetry show she is a writer who takes risks, which often pay off. Anna is also one of the emerging writers helping to forge a distinct Queensland voice which holds cultural diversity, respect, and a shamelessly critical eye at its core.

It is heartening to see a young writer and publisher find their voice, their place in the literary community and in the broader public sphere. Eggshell Skull is an important book for many reasons, not least because of the strength of Bri Lee’s writing, the vital message she drives home, and the conversations happening as a result. Bri’s commitment to supporting other writers via Hot Chicks with Big Brains is also indicative of the heart, creative eye, and vision needed to succeed in an ever-changing industry.

Finalists              

  • Ella Jeffery                                         
  • Emily O'Grady                                   
  • Yen-Rong Wong

Awarded for an outstanding manuscript by an unpublished Queensland writer.

This category is sponsored by Jenny Summerson.

Prize: $15,000, plus publication with the University of Queensland Press (UQP)

Winner               

  • Garrison Town by Melanie Myers

Judges’ comments

Garrison Town is a polished, multi-layered narrative that reveals the simmering tensions in WWII Brisbane between visiting US soldiers and Australian troops. Told through the perspective of several female characters, it is a well-researched historical fiction that expertly weaves epistolary into a modern-day narrative. The author elegantly mirrors the challenges and limitations faced by wartime women with contemporary themes of violence and sexism.

Finalists              

  • fate, revenge and chipburgers by Karen Herschell                           
  • On Either Side by Laura Kenny                   
  • Hidebound by Christopher Przewloka    

 

Supported by the University of Queensland Press

Awarded for an outstanding manuscript by an unpublished Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer.

Supported by the Copyright Agency through the Cultural Fund.

Prize: $15,000, plus publication with the University of Queensland Press (UQP)

Winner

  • The Making of Ruby Champion by Kirstie Parker 

Judges’ comments

One of the achievements of this manuscript is the way it seamlessly draws together the outback Aboriginal grassroots experience with the urban Black story. Both settings are deeply and authentically Blak, and the humour and characters expressed by the author shine as a rough diamond from the heart of Aboriginal Australia.

Finalists              

  • Why Worry Now by Melanie Saward                      
  • Jilba's Song by Wendy Somerville                            
  • Song — The Story of a Girl, a Bird and a Teapot by Waiata Telfer
  • Destinations Past Present Future: Diving Through Timelines by Teila Watson

 

Supported by the University of Queensland Press.

Awarded to an exceptional work of transmedia or digital literature showcasing innovation in storytelling.

Prize: $15,000

Winner               

  • Little Emperor Syndrome by David Thomas Henry Wright, with Chris Arnold

Judges’ comments

An elegantly simple execution of a wickedly complex narrative, ‘Little Emperor Syndrome’ makes clever use of database-driven web coding — an accessible choice of platform — to achieve a multi-threaded narrative. The author has introduced a stunning number of permutations for experiencing the different modes and yet still the story works as a cohesive whole. It is a remarkable feat of narrative craft.

Finalists              

  • Our Cupidity Coda by Mez Breeze
  • A Place Called Ormalcy by Mez Breeze
  • Core Values (Australian Poetry) by Benjamin Laird

Awarded to an outstanding work of fiction by an Australian writer.

Prize: $15,000

Winner                

  • Taboo (Pan Macmillan) by Kim Scott

Judges’ comments

A confronting but ultimately hopeful book that probes Australia’s heart of darkness in poetic and masterly prose. Scott just gets better and better in a novel that is brutal but also idealistic. He should be regarded as an important voice in world literature.

Finalists              

  • Flames (Text Publishing) by Robbie Arnott
  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (Wild Dingo Press) by Shokoofeh Azar
  • The Fish Girl (Brio Books) by Mirandi Riwoe
  • The Shepherd's Hut (Penguin Random House) by Tim Winton

Awarded to an outstanding work of non-fiction by an Australian writer.

Prize: $15,000

Winner               

  • Tracker (Giramondo Publishing) by Alexis Wright

Judges’ comments

This book is stunningly innovative in the way it brings the life and story of Tracker Tilmouth to the printed page. Tracker was a visionary Aboriginal leader who used his knowledge of economics to further opportunities for his people. This book is operatic in form, soaring to great heights and depths, always fascinating and ultimately illuminating about this Indigenous leader who remains unknown to many non-Indigenous Australians.

Finalists              

  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin (Text Publishing) by Judith Brett           
  • The Year Everything Changed: 2001 (Penguin Random House) by Phillipa McGuinness
  • Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture — A New Earth (UQP) by Charles Massy
  • Korea: Where the American Century Began (Hardie Grant Books) by Michael Pembroke

Awarded to a work, suitable for children up to 12 years old, by an Australian writer.

Prize: $15,000

Winner               

  • The Elephant (UQP) by Peter Carnavas

Judges’ comments

Peter Carnavas has illustrated his debut novel, The Elephant, with simple, evocative line drawings. How Olive and her grandad cope with her mother’s death and father’s overwhelming grief is shown through consummate, heartfelt storytelling. The sensory, lyrical writing is exquisite and the symbols are profound yet ultimately light-filled and hopeful.

Finalists              

  • The Storm Whale (Allen & Unwin) written by Sarah Brennan, illustrated by Jane Tanner
  • Go Go and the Silver Shoes (Penguin Random House) written by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker       
  • The Shop at Hoopers Bend (HarperCollins) by Emily Rodda
  • Swan Lake (Allen & Unwin) by Anne Spudvilas  

Awarded to a work, suitable for young adults aged 13 to 19, by an Australian writer.

Prize: $15,000

Winner               

  • In the Dark Spaces (Hardie Grant Egmont) by Cally Black

Judges’ comments

This brutally realistic sci-fi novel enfolds a heart-wrenching family story. The norms of race, class, social justice, and personal responsibility are confronted by our young protagonist, Tamara, as she collides and colludes with an alien culture in a quest to rescue her baby cousin and find a way home.

Finalists              

  • The Dream Walker (Hachette) by Victoria Carless
  • Sparrow (Allen & Unwin) by Scot Gardner                           
  • Amelia Westlake (Hardie Grant Egmont) by Erin Gough                 
  • Because of You (UQP) by Pip Harry

Awarded to an outstanding non-fiction history book by an Australian writer.

Prize: $10,000

Winner               

  • We'll Show the World: Expo 88 (UQP) by Jackie Ryan

Judges’ comments

Jackie Ryan’s Expo 88 is an engaging history of Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s giving an extraordinary insight into Queensland’s distinctive political and commercial machinations, as well as its social history. Ryan’s achievement in analysing the many dimensions of the Expo story — its boosters, doubters, and opponents of its social dislocation — with such pacey economy is extraordinary. Ryan’s literary writing style demonstrates that scholarly excellence can still be accessible to all readers.

Finalists              

  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin (Text Publishing) by Judith Brett
  • Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia (Black Inc) by Billy Griffiths
  • Beautiful Balts: From Displaced Persons to New Australians (NewSouth Publishing) by Jayne Persian
  • The Battle Within: POWs in Postwar Australia (NewSouth Publishing) by Christina Twomey

Awarded to an outstanding collection of short stories by an Australian writer.

Prize: $10,000

Winner               

  • Pulse Points (Text Publishing) by Jennifer Down

Judges’ comments

It’s exceedingly rare to see astonishing talent in a writer so young. Pulse Points is a daring, compelling, and refreshing collection of stories that covers diverse territory. Each story is emotionally evocative, surprising the reader at every turn. This is a collection of an author to watch.

Finalists              

  • Bird Country (Text Publishing) by Claire Aman                   
  • Common People (UQP) by Tony Birch                    
  • Habits of Silence (Finlay Lloyd Publishers) by Stephanie Buckle
  • Trick of the Light (UQP) by Laura Elvery

Awarded to an outstanding collection of poetry by an Australian writer.

Prize: $10,000

Winner               

  • I Love Poetry (Giramondo Publishing) by Michael Farrell

Judges’ comments

One of the country’s foremost poets, Michael Farrell opens a door and invites the reader to step beyond the threshold of disbelief into a new and dazzling world. In I Love Poetry, his commitment to Australia as subject, and to poetry as a mode of thought, gains power with each fearless interrogation. Farrell remixes the Australian experience though a multiplicity of word play, bush poetic, irony, fragmented joy, and surprise cameos from Australian icons such as INXS and Waleed Aly. A truly inventive book, I Love Poetry brings a whole new dimension to Australian camp: extravagant, subversive, and hilarious, but also profound in its capacity to reimagine the terms with which we inhabit this complex continent. In the great tradition of queer Australian landscape poetics, like Patrick White, David Malouf, and Martin Harrison, Farrell recombines Australian ecology, history, and mythology into glorious, and very funky, new forms. But despite the book’s grand canvas, many of the poems feature a startling intimacy: the poet has become as open to the details of his self as he has always been to the currents and conjectures of pop culture, literature and philosophy; all is vibrant, viable material for this lyrebird of Australian poetry.

Finalists              

  • click here for what we do (Vagabond Press) by Pam Brown         
  • Chatelaine (Giramondo Publishing) by Bonny Cassidy                    
  • The Honeymoon Stage (Giramondo Publishing) by Oscar Schwartz          
  • Lost Lake (Vagabond Press) by Bella Li   

Awarded to an outstanding book by a Queensland author. The winner is determined by public vote.

Prize: $10,000

Winner               

  • Brisbane Houses with Gardens (Beth Wilson) by Beth Wilson

Finalists              

  • Burning Down (UQP) by Venero Armanno          
  • Danger Music (Allen & Unwin) by Eddie Ayres                   
  • To Become a Whale (Allen & Unwin) by Ben Hobson                      
  • The Yellow House (Allen & Unwin) by Emily O'Grady                       
  • The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (HarperCollins) by Holly Ringland                 
  • We'll Show the World: Expo 88 (UQP) by Jackie Ryan                      
  • A Life Underwater (Penguin Random House) by Charlie Veron   

Find all past Queensland Literary Awards winners here.

 

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