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Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2001 Winners

Premier's Prize

Dirt Music - Tim WintonDirt Music - Tim Winton
Picador
Judges' Comments
Winton has given us the quintessential West Australian novel: a saga of love, deception and desire set in the vastness of this State. When Georgie Jutland stumbles upon the poacher, the "shamateur" Luther Fox, a rare frisson develops between them and she rethinks her life with Jim Buckridge in the fishing town of White Point. Written in a vigorous style that captures West Australian lingo to perfection, this is a novel that one can't put down as it carries within its narrative momentum such forthright issues as migration, Aboriginal claims to the land, the dreariness of urban lives and the importance of the one act that redeems us. Memories mingle; conflicting thoughts arise as this gifted writer again writes a book at once epic in scope and detailed in its observations of life.

Fiction

Dirt Music - Tim WintonDirt Music - Tim Winton
Picador
Judges' Comments
For Judges' Comments please see the Premier's Prize entry.

 


Poetry

mountainHalfway up the Mountain - Dorothy Hewett
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
This is a forthright and heartfelt exploration of personal journeys as well as powerfully rendered meditations on the Australian landscape. Here relationships are explored with honesty and localities given new meanings. Hewett's verse speaks directly to us, as the poetic voice explores evocative memories of moments that have shaped the life of this remarkable individual. There is a democratic bias to Hewett's verse as she reflects on events that influenced Australian life and values. Hewett is a skilful poet whose verses seek to "contain multitudes" only to find that life always escapes the frames we impose upon it.

Non-Fiction (2 Awards)

baileyThe White Divers of Broome - John Bailey
Macmillan
Judges' Comments
Bailey uses the techniques of a novelist to bring to life archival research in his examination of the ways in which White Australia went out of its way to handle what it felt was a stain on the nation: the use of Malays, Japanese and other non-whites as pearl divers in Broome. This, it was alleged, signified an undesirable crack in the sanctified conception of the White Australia Policy. The book offers a wonderful insight into a panic-ridden nation on matters of race and miscegenation even as it re-creates the narrative with immense dramatic force and immediacy. A wonderful read, this work captures and maintains the reader's interest throughout.

chooBlue China: Single Female Migration to Colonial Australia - by Jan Gothard
Melbourne University Press
Judges' Comments
Jan Gothard's book is an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the migration of single women to Australia between 1850 and 1900. This is a carefully researched book that makes the transition from thesis to book remarkably well. At once readable and informative, the book also lays to rest some erstwhile myths about the reasons behind single female migration. Furthermore, the importation of women workers as commodities whose use value was directed towards maintaining bourgeois values of family and nation (by both men and middle-class establishment women) is one of many theoretical insights of this book. This is an important work that has grown out of a meticulous reading of an historical archive about a marginalised but numerically very significant group of migrants.

Children's Books

morrisThe Yankee Whaler - Deborah Lisson
Scholastic Press
Judges' Comments
Lisson gives us a wonderful re-enactment of historical events during the latter part of the 19th century in Bunbury. The great strength of the book lies in the way in which real historical events are presented from a child's point of view. Apart from the self-evident strength of the plot, Lisson's book makes an invaluable contribution to the power of history itself as both narrative and a frame for fictional re-creation.

Perth Independent Newspapers Young Adults Award

lawrinsonObsession - Julia Lawrinson
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Judges' Comments
Julia Lawrinson has achieved a rare balance here: honest expressions of a young girl as she negotiates family life (always difficult) and school life (a veritable jungle of jealous passions and barely suppressed violence). The language captures schoolyard lingo and manages to give just the right inflection to the conflicting emotions of the struggling outsider in a school where sexual politics and power struggles get in the way of learning. Humour, pathos, love, achievement and failure combine to make this an immensely readable work that has captured the language of the genre perfectly.

Script Award

wellerConfessions of a Headhunter - Sally Riley and Archie Weller
Judges' Comments
Triggered by the decapitated head of Yagan, the Aboriginal warrior, this is a kind of allegorical return of the silenced, occluded Aboriginal subject. Frank and Vinnie are on a decapitating rampage as they choose important Australian statues (Forrest, Cook) to decapitate. Interwoven into this act of political vandalism are the murders of actual people that, one gathers, signify the murders that lay behind the celebration of Australian heroism. This work stands out as an original and ingenious means of making a powerful political point.