The shortlist for the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript has been announced and I’m on it. Even I don’t believe it. I write weird fiction, not quite literary, not quite commercial, not quite gritty realism, not quite fantasy. To get shortlisted for such a prestigious prize for my weird fiction has got to be a lifetime highlight. Shout out to my fellow weird fiction writers.
And then to look at the caliber of the other writers on the shortlist I feel like I must be hallucinating.
• The Sorry Tale of the Mignonette by Angela Gardner (Qld) Poetry
• K. the Interpreter by Martin Kovan (NSW) Fiction
• Fish Work by Caitlin Maling (WA) Poetry
• Children of Lovers by Kylie Mirmohamadi (Victoria) Fiction
• The Rabbit Paperweight by Robin Riedstra (NSW) Fiction
• Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld (South Australia) Fiction
Karen Wyld is on the shortlist. Karen Wyld! Where the Fruit Falls was shortlisted for the Ritchell Prize in 2017. That same manuscript was then accepted for the 2018 Hardcopy Program. A manuscript does not get this consistent hit rate for recognition unless it’s exceptional. And yet, there I am, right next to her.
I’m actually sandwiched between Karen Wyld and Kylie Mirmohamadi. Kylie Mirmohamadi is a writer, a university scholar, and the author of The Digital Afterlives of Jane Austen. She is well regarded and an incredibly sophisticated writer. I am honoured to be on the same list.
And then there is Angela Gardner. Winner of a Churchill Fellowship. Winner of an Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Award. Winner of the Bauhinia/Idiom 23 Prize. Published by University of Queensland Press, Meanjin, Poetry Wales. I could go on but you get the idea. She’s a heavy hitter.
Martin Kovan has appeared in publications across the globe. He’s an academic, writer, journalist, poet. Well respected and highly regarded.
Caitlin Maling is a poet and critic. She has received the John Marsden Poetry Prize. Shortlisted for the Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Won the Harri Jones Memorial Prize. She has been published in The Australian, Island Meanjin, Threepenny Review and so much more. Her record speaks for itself.
And then there’s me…. Hi. Don’t really have an impressive array of awards to share. Just more me butting my head against a wall and being rejected.
But enough about me, here’s what the media release has to say about each of our manuscripts. I personally love how they’ve written about mine, and I hope everyone else does too.
The shortlist, copied straight from the press release:
The Sorry Tale of the Mignonette by Angela Gardner (Qld) Poetry
This dramatic verse novel depicts the best and worst aspects of human nature
in extremis. The story of a nineteenth-century sea journey to Australia that goes
badly, its characters are clearly drawn, holding their own through sea shanties,
street ballads and other modes of storytelling from another time.
K. the Interpreter by Martin Kovan (NSW) Fiction
K. the Interpreter is an ambitious novel with echoes of Kafka and Coetzee, set against the backdrop of an inequitable globalised world, and rendered in a lean and efficient prose style. An exploration of the consequences of war,
displacement, racism and religious conflict, it addresses some of the most urgent and intractable issues of our time, registering with particular acuity the ways in which women are apt to become the victims of violent conflict.
Fish Work by Caitlin Maling (WA) Poetry
Fish Work is a suite of poems containing various modes and registers of expression. The collection circles around the theme of the ocean and all of its occupants, alongside a life researching this ecology and closely observing people and place during field work. It is an intriguing exploration of the
multitude of being in the world.
Children of Lovers by Kylie Mirmohamadi (Victoria) Fiction
This novel is an intimate account of yearning for belonging by an adoptee
without a prehistory. It follows a country girl starting university in a city and creating her own community through that yearning. In this narrative, she enters into a migrant community she believes she has an affinity through a bloodline with, and this underpins the dynamic of the novel.
The Rabbit Paperweight by Robin Riedstra (NSW) Fiction
The Rabbit Paperweight is a creative and deeply thoughtful response to the
classic children’s story Alice in Wonderland and the morally dubious life of its author Lewis Carroll. Set in an Australian psychiatric institution, the novel is alert to the trauma that often lies behind madness, drawing the reader’s attention back to the sinister realities that can lurk beneath the seductive
charms of the fantastical.
Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld (South Australia) Fiction
Where the Fruit Falls is a novel that gives voice to three generations of Indigenous women determined to restore broken connections with Country. In richly textured storytelling, this writing celebrates the agency of Indigenous women to traverse ever-present landscapes of colonisation and intergenerational trauma, against a backdrop of remarkable desert and coastal scenes.
Further info copied straight from the press release:
The judges for the 2020 award are Terri-ann White, Director UWA Publishing;
Elfie Shiosaki, Lecturer in the School of Indigenous Studies at The University of Western Australia; and James Ley, author and contributing editor of Sydney
Review of Books.
A ceremony will take place on Friday 21 February 2020 in Perth to announce
the winner of the Award and the winning manuscript will be published in
The Dorothy Hewett Award is open to all writers who have completed a manuscript and are seeking publication. The work must be fiction, narrative nonfiction or poetry, inclusive of hybrid genres such as verse novels or memoir.
The winner receives a cash prize of $10,000, courtesy of Copyright Agency, and
a publishing contract with UWA Publishing.