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Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 1999 Winners

Premier's Prize

Benang: from the Heart - Kim Scott
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
Benang is an outstanding achievement of narrative. It uses the historical record, ideas about revisions and corrections, and the close emotional range of the recording of family to make a political and affecting work of loss that is undercut with both irony and distance. Throughout its five hundred pages it sustains its original idea of subverting the state-sanctioned policies of race and genetic make-up, of making the 'first white baby'. This is a major work of fiction that is always engaged in a struggle against its bleak material, and it succeeds in that struggle. There is a huge investment evident here by the writer in researching, compiling and then making anew this material into an imaginative form.

Fiction

Benang: from the Heart - Kim Scott
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
See notes for Premier's Prize

Poetry

The Willing Eye - Tracy Ryan
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
The Willing Eye is a powerful volume made up of six sections that set up, at times, remarkable insights into human life and its complexity. Using the physical act of giving birth and moving through the life of the growing child, as these poems do, and focusing on place-on the detail of both landscape and interior spaces-we are literally taken on a journey. These poems are direct, mature, sometimes modest-looking, unadorned constructions that contain a great sophistication and clarity through their use of language.

Historical & Critical Studies

Broken Lives - Estelle Blackburn
Stellar Publishing
Judges' Comments
In searching for answers concerning a possible miscarriage of justice, Estelle Blackburn has provided a detailed reconstruction of a series of events which illuminate the social history of Perth in the 1960s. Focusing on the extraordinary and chilling crimes of serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke she provides a fascinating insight into what made Cooke tick, while the narrative makes for engaging, indeed gripping reading at all times. This may have been a book written primarily in the attempt to argue the case for a particular individual but the end product is much more than that. The impressive list of sources both written and oral is testimony to the extent of her achievement.

Children's Books

Showtime: Over 75 Ways to Put on a Show - Reg Bolton
Dorling Kindersley
Judges' Comments
Packed with inspiring ideas and tips for creating interesting, exciting performances, this large-size, full-colour Dorling Kindersley book will delight children, especially those throughout Western Australia who have participated in educational programs with Reg Bolton's 'Suitcase Circus'. Adults helping children to create a polished public performance will also welcome the range of suggestions for acts, costumes and staging ideas. Well set out, the ideas are easy to follow and generally simple to create using readily available materials. Children portrayed in the book exemplify the United Kingdom racial mix, but this does not detract from its value for an Australian audience.

Dymocks Hay Street Mall Store Young Adults Award

Scooterboy - Glyn Parry
Hodder Headline Australia
Judges' Comments
This open-ended love story is told from the point of view of Sam Lynch, a school dropout who is pumping petrol for her mother's boyfriend in the small community of Happy Valley. Sam is unsure that she even has a future until she meets Zach, the gentle new boy who rides a Vespa and idolises 'The Who', a rock group from the 1960s. In the spare language of the dialogue and Sam's musings, Parry captures the insecurities of teenagers, their worldliness and naivety, the tumult of being in love and the difficulties faced in a world where teenagers often have little support from adults or their peers.

Special Award

Abrolhos Islands Conversations - Victor France, Larry Mitchell & Alison Wright
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
An authentic and distinctive culture with its own traditions, mores and expectations has emerged from the human activity that has taken place in the unique environment of the Abrolhos Islands. It is brilliantly captured in the frank, unembellished interviews in this collaborative work, which is enhanced by excellent drawings and portraits.

Script Award

This category was included under the Special Award category for the 1999 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards.