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2008 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards

1 September 2010 - Premier announces winners of 2008 and 2009 Book Awards

Premier Colin Barnett tonight announced the winners of the 2008 and 2009 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards.

"For the first time these awards were broadened to allow all Australian writers to enter, and I was very pleased to see many of the interstate winning authors attend the presentation," Mr Barnett said.

"The increased profile and greater prestige of the Awards allows Western Australian authors to be judged on the national stage, and I was delighted that local authors were successful in several genres."

Record entries had been submitted following the announcement earlier this year of the widening of the eligibility criteria and increased prize money, with 404 entries in the 2009 awards, and 300 for the 2008 awards.

The Chair of the 2009 Judging Panel Dr Lucy Dougan said the judges were impressed with the high calibre of entries.

"The high standard of entries posed some challenging decisions for the judges, who displayed integrity and professionalism in making some very difficult decisions," Dr Dougan said.

"It is wonderful to see these prizes going national; this can only strengthen and enhance writing in WA."

The 2008 Premier's Prize of $25,000 was won by Chloe Hooper for The Tall Man, which was the winner of the $15,000 non-fiction category.

The 2009 Premier's Prize of $25,000 was awarded to Shirley Barrett for South Solitary, which won the $10,000 scripts category. 

The 2008 Judging Panel were Dr Wendy Were (Chair), Frank Palmos, Dr Rose Lucas, Carmel Ballinger, Prof Keith Norris and Beverley Jacobson.

The 2009 Judging Panel were Dr Lucy Dougan (Chair), Clare Renner, Prof John Tonkin, Dr Shalmalee Palekar, Tehani Wessely and Frank Palmos.

Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2008 Winners

Premier's Prize

South SolitaryChloe Hooper  The Tall Man
Perfectly observed sentences and detailed observations traverse a set of issues which are of vital importance to contemporary Australia – the sorry history of settler-indigenous relations and its ongoing legacy right up to the present moment. As an observer and interpreter of a particular event, Hooper acknowledges her own participant status in a way that is both humble and engaging, reinforcing that this is an urgent story for every Australian. An exceptionally strong work, both in form and content.

Poetry

B-LEA-The-Other-Way-OutBronwyn Lea  The Other Way Out
In this collection of finely crafted and translucent poetry, Lea brings us poems of great sensitivity and attention to detail, as well as technical mastery and grace, with a voice that can be alternately tender, insightful and sharp. Lea clearly is an emerging major talent whose dextrous talent for rendering intensity and immediacy produces highly readable and accomplished poems. 

Non-Fiction

South SolitaryChloe Hooper  The Tall Man
Perfectly observed sentences and detailed observations traverse a set of issues which are of vital importance to contemporary Australia – the sorry history of settler-indigenous relations and its ongoing legacy right up to the present moment. As an observer and interpreter of a particular event, Hooper acknowledges her own participant status in a way that is both humble and engaging, reinforcing that this is an urgent story for every Australian. An exceptionally strong work, both in form and content.

Fiction

R-FLANAGAN-WantingRichard Flanagan Wanting
In his courageous and beautiful book Flanagan weaves together a number of different stories and voices – Robinson, the protector of Aborigines, Charles Dickens, the child Mathinna, Sir John and Lady Franklin – to create a powerful study of a historical period and also to examine the idea of wanting: what different people might want, how able they are to say or to achieve it, and also what is wanting, lacking at the heart of the colonial experience. An important and disturbing Australian novel, elegant and eloquently written.

Children's Books

B-GRAHAM-How-to-Heal-a-Broken-WingBob Graham    How to Heal a Broken Wing
A magical combination of beautiful design, delightful soft wash and ink illustrations and the perfect simplicity of the written text make this a touching and enduring story of a child’s ability to see what adults sometimes miss, and to keep alive the dream of restoration in the face of pragmatism. A wonderful story for children and adults alike, reinforcing the values of compassion, empathy and hope and the value of a child-centred perspective.

Young Adults

suburbiathShaun Tan    Tales from Outer Suburbia
With exquisite pen and ink sketches, paintings and pencil drawings complementing his perceptive prose, Tan continues to offer significant insights into the experience of Australians in all their diversity. Subtle and rich stories consider the quiet mysteries of everyday life: homemade pats, dangerous weddings, stranded sea mammals, tiny exchange students and secret rooms filled with darkness and delight. Outlandish yet so believable, this is a book to treasure.

Script

D-MILLAR-The-Modern-InternationalDamian Miller   The Modern International Dead
A bizarre and haunting exploration of areas of recent war and conflict – East Timor, Iraq, Cambodia, Rwanda. This is a fiercely intelligent and imaginative exploration of individuals in situations of intolerable compromise and suffering.

WA History

B-DIBBLE---Doing-Life---Elizabeth-JolleyBrian Dibble Doing Life: A Biography of Elizabeth Jolley
A longstanding friend of Elizabeth Jolley, Dibble’s highly readable biography honours the life of one of Australia’s literary giants. Thorough and scrupulous research undertaken in Australia and overseas coupled with access to his subject’s personal papers have resulted in a comprehensive and important instalment in Australia’s literary history.

15 February 2010 - Literary review strengthens Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards

The Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards will receive an additional $80,000 a year in State Government funding, following a comprehensive external review of two literary awards.

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said he made the decision to strengthen the successful and popular WA Premier’s Book Awards (PBA), while the Australia-Asia Literary Award (AALA) would be discontinued.

Read the Executive Summary of the Report of the Review of the Western Australian Premier’s and Australia-Asia Literary Award Schemes or phone 9224 7300.

Mr Day said although the Government fully supported the original intent of the AALA to draw international recognition to WA and its community of writers, there was no capacity for it to continue as there was no funding allocated beyond 2012.

“Given the economic pressures, the AALA does not represent the most prudent use of funds and is unsustainable,” he said.

“The Premier’s Book Awards have a long and proud history and, with some additional support, can maintain the outward looking vision of the AALA.”

“The AALA will be discontinued immediately so we can free up some of those funds for an improved Premier’s Book Awards.”

“These funds will allow for an increased prize pool, specialist judging expertise and improved promotion, with an emphasis on attracting sponsorships and partnerships.”

The Minister said the PBA would be broadened to allow all Australian writers to enter, widening the award’s prestige and bringing PBA in line with other significant interstate awards.

Entries will open on February 15, 2010 for Australian works published in 2008 and 2009 with increases to the top prize (Premier’s Prize) and the following categories: Fiction; Non-Fiction; Young Adult; Children’s; WA History; Poetry; and Script.

The Premier’s Prize would be increased to $25,000 and when combined with one of the sub-categories, this top prize value would be worth up to $40,000.

The two years would be judged separately, have access to separate prizes and would be recognised at a single event in August 2010.  Category winners would be shortlisted for the two Premier’s Prizes for 2008 and 2009 which would be awarded at the event.

Further changes to award categories would be introduced in 2011 and be announced at the August event.  One of the new categories would include a People’s Choice Award, designed to create greater interest in Western Australian writing through a public voting process.

In addition to changes to the Premier’s Book Awards, the Government would support Writing WA in 2010 with $30,000 towards the costs of a WA Writer’s Showcase to be programmed within the Visiting Industry Program for the 2010 Perth Writers’ Festival which starts this month.

The showcase would be attended by artistic directors of leading international literature festivals and would promote the work of local writers to international markets.