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Winners announced for Premier’s Book Awards

Premier Colin Barnett, Winner Helen Garner
 and State Librarian Margaret Allen

Authors, illustrators, poets, playwrights, publishers and academics spearheading the creation of new and online reading resources gathered at the State Library of Western Australia on Monday 3rd October, providing a snapshot of literary talent active in Australia today.

Renowned Australian author Helen Garner was presented with the prestigious $25,000 prize by Premier Colin Barnett, who acknowledged all those shortlisted for the Awards and congratulated the winners across all categories.

“It is wonderful that the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards recognise the breadth of literary works available to readers today – from traditional novels, non-fiction works and poetry collections in hard copy, to digital narratives able to be accessed on tablets and smartphones,” Premier Barnett said.

“The State Government continues to support developing talent, with the WA Emerging Writers’ Award presented for only the second time. This year it went to Brooke Davis from North Beach for her novel, a charming story of three quirky characters on a journey of search and discovery on a road trip across Australia.

“I congratulate Helen Garner on winning the Premier’s Prize, and thank all the writers who entered the Awards, as well as the judging panel for their work in choosing such worthy winners,” the Premier said.

The Premier also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the late historian Geoffrey Bolton at the Awards function, commenting that Professor Bolton’s contribution to the documenting of Western Australian history was well recognised in past Premier’s Book Awards. His last publication was entered posthumously into the 2016 Awards.

Members of the public were also able to vote for their favourite book from the fiction shortlist in the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by The West Australian Newspaper. This year the WA public chose Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson.

Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2016 Winners

Fiction

London, Joan  The Golden Age  The Golden Age by Joan London
Published by Vintage, 2014

London tells the story of Frank Gold who is alone on two counts, first his polio, which sets him apart from ‘normal’ children and second his status as a ‘reffo’ from wartime Hungary. Already celebrated as the winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (2015), The Golden Age is a beautifully written novel which takes up a little examined aspect of Australian life, during a polio epidemic.

Non-fiction

Garner, Helen  This House of Grief  This House of Grief by Helen Garner
Published by Text Publishing, 2014

Garner, by exposing her own emotions and reactions to the evidence presented during the court cases against Robert Farquharson, challenges the reader to do the same. What is revealed is a dialogue between author, reader and the case that rips at the human heart. Masterfully written, this is a deeply mesmerising and honest book.

Children's Books

Millard, Glenda  The Duck and the Darklings  The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Published by Allen & Unwin, 2014

Millard’s poetic, alliterative text instantly engages, intrigues and captivates. The whimsical illustrations extend and perfectly reflect the warm poignancy of the story. An outstanding and enriching book.

Poetry

Dougan, Lucy  The Guardians  The Guardians by Lucy Dougan
Published by Giramondo Poets, 2015

Seemingly simple, actually very dense poetry, Dougan’s elliptical work hints at a life that hovers just beyond our comprehension; in dreams, tales, the past, in the imagination of the poet. This other world surrounds even the most domestic of the poems. Often funny as well as serious, the work is at the same time mysterious and haunting.

State Library of WA Western Australian History

Morgan, Ruth A.  Running Out? Water in Western 
Australia  Running Out? Water in WA by Ruth A. Morgan
Published by UWA Publishing, 2015

Morgan’s subject is topical and most relevant to Western Australian readers, but it also has a wider appeal. It presents impeccable research and referencing, while Morgan’s wit and humour is engaging. This is a pioneering study of value to other scholars, and the seriously interested reader.

Young Adult

Zorn, Claire  The Protected  The Protected by Claire Zorn
Published by University of Queensland Press, 2014

A powerful yet sensitively written book, this story follows protagonist, Hannah, through a difficult period of her life. Examining themes of loss, grief and bullying, Zorn manages not to overwhelm the reader with ‘issues’, but rather carefully unpacks Hannah's journey in a realistic, heart-breaking but ultimately hopeful story. With immaculately paced tension and potent emotional punch, leavened with genuine humour and warmth, The Protected is a superb example of a contemporary young adult novel.

Western Australian Emerging Writers Award

Davis, Brooke  Lost and Found  Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
Published by Hachette Australia, 2014

This is a charming story of three quirky characters on a journey of search and discovery who, on a road trip across Australia, find much more. Davis explores love, death, and friendship through the whimsy and wisdom of her child protagonist. Her unique voice delivers a compassionate story.

Scripts

Dust by Suzie MillerDust by Suzie Miller
Commissioned by Black Swan Theatre Company WA for 2014 Mainstage season

Intriguing stage drama pushing Australian naturalism into an effective surreal realm employing the potent core metaphor  of red dust. Ostensibly that element evokes a dystopian, end-time sci-fi trope but the greater appeal of this strategy is that the playwright - who has an admirable grasp of this performance material and a most effective application of stage design possibilities and mechanics - delivers the audience to wider concerns in our antipodean culture through the shifting structure of the character elements. Risk taking evident in this well-crafted and challenging creation.

Digital Narrative

Timelord Dreaming by David P. ReiterTimelord Dreaming by David P. Reiter
Published by IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd), 2014

This intriguing electronic book is written in short sections the author describes as ‘tweetems’, which give a sense of the sometimes confusing world experienced by a patient in hospital. Acting as memory snippets, the fragments build a story; each short narrative segment being enhanced by links to web-based content that enlarges on the ‘tweetem’ text. The reader is taken on a surreal journey, and can choose when to follow links for more information and when to move on to the next piece of the narrative.

People's Choice Award sponsored and presented by The West Australian

Allinson, Miles  Fever of Animals  Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson
Published by Scribe Publications, 2015

From the beginning of this atmospheric and painterly journey, Allinson carries readers with him as he explores themes of surrealism, doomed love and growing up. In a highly original faux autobiographical narrative, Allinson is not afraid to leave questions open. The novel is an outstanding example of its genre, aesthetically appealing and moving.

Premier's Prize

Garner, Helen  This House of Grief  This House of Grief by Helen Garner
Published by Text Publishing, 2014

Garner, by exposing her own emotions and reactions to the evidence presented during the court cases against Robert Farquharson, challenges the reader to do the same. What is revealed is a dialogue between author, reader and the case that rips at the human heart. Masterfully written, this is a deeply mesmerising and honest book.

For further information about the 2016 Awards check the:

The WA Premiers Book Awards are held biennially. The next awards will be in 2018 (for books published in 2016 and 2017 calendar years).

The next call for entries will be made in late 2017.

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