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Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2009

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 - 2009 Winners

Premier's Prize

2009 WinnerShirley Barrett   South Solitary
Tortuous emotional narratives are sharpened by geographic isolation. The script revealed Barrett as a very talented and imaginative writer; her dialogues are an example of fine, crisp writing. The setting would have appealed to any practical producer, and there were clear indications the script would make a smooth transition to the screen.

Non-Fiction

I-McCALMAN-Darwins-ArmadaIain McCalman   Darwin's Armada
An absolutely superb achievement — rigorously researched, elegantly constructed and narrated with flair, wit and wonder. McCalman brings to vivid life one of the greatest scientific achievements and controversies.

Fiction (2 Winners)

JM-COETZEE-SummertimeJM Coetzee    Summertime
Appearing almost prosaic in its economy, the writing in Summertime nevertheless reminds us continually of Coetzee’s formidable talent. While seemingly intent on telling us that Coetzee the man is, at best, inconsequential, the assured nature of the writer and his brilliant controlled manipulation of reality, memory and truth make it certain that he appears anything but this.

C-SILVEY-Jasper-JonesCraig Silvey    Jasper Jones
Carig Silvey’s second novel Jasper Jones does everything to confirm his position as one of Australia’s foremost storytellers. Within the first few paragraphs he drags the reader headlong into the story and doesn’t let go until the very last page. In this deliberate homage to Harper Lee and Mark Twain, Craig Silvey has written a perfectly crafted coming of age novel that will speak to a wide audience, defying the notion of intended readership.

WA History

P-HEATHERINGTON-Paupers,-Poor-ReliefPenelope Hetherington  Paupers, Poor Relief and Poor Houses in WA, 1829-1910
Meticulously researched, the narrative is illuminated with numerous case studies of unemployed paupers, of the sick and insane, of destitute widows and unmarried pregnant servant girls and of abandoned children. The author asks questions whether the Poor Houses were administered to assist the poor or to punish them and what was the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. Much of Western Australian history is written from the point of view of elites, and this work provides a much needed balance.

Young Adults

J-LARBALESTIER-LiarJustine Larbalestier  Liar
This book is cleverly written, with unreliable narration that is brilliantly done. It's not a book that you can dip in and out of – you have to read this one from start to finish, and then you'll immediately turn back to the start and begin again because you'll find it so intriguing. It’s a complex style that is extremely successful here.

Children's Books

M-WILD-F-BLACKWOOD-Harry-_and_-HopperMargaret Wild, illustrations by Freya Blackwood     Harry & Hopper
Harry & Hopper is such a sad story, but is an extraordinarily good book for dealing with grief. With a beautiful story, gorgeous and unusual illustrations, and excellent examination of the theme, this is a great package.

Scripts

2009 WinnerShirley Barrett   South Solitary
Tortuous emotional narratives are sharpened by geographic isolation. The script revealed Barrett as a very talented and imaginative writer; her dialogues are an example of fine, crisp writing. The setting would have appealed to any practical producer, and there were clear indications the script would make a smooth transition to the screen.

Poetry

K-MIDDLETON-Fire-SeasonKate Middleton   Fire Season
This collection of poems moves effortlessly between the divas of film culture and everyday experience. Ideas about representations of the self, a touchstone for this book, are never a straightforward business, and lush imagery is contained by a wonderful sense of where to end a line