Tara June Winch won the Prime Minister’s Literature Prize for Fiction, making it the first Indigenous Australian to do so, and gave the writer a clean note in the nation’s most prestigious annual writing prize contest.
Wiradjuri writer’s second novel, The Yield, won the Miles Franklin Award in July and three prizes at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in April.
Speaking from her home in France, the 37-year-old said she was grateful for the latest worth 100 win. $ 000, but it was bittersweet to have so much success in a year when many artists were struggling.
« To be in abundance when there is a lack of support around you. . . it’s hard, « said Winch. « However, there have been books in Australian literary history that have won many awards in the same year. I just have to think it’s a one-off book. It will not happen again. «
The Yield tells the story of August Gondiwindi, who returns to her house in the Massacre Plains of Wiradjuri for the funeral of her grandfather « Poppy » Albert, while the land around her is taken over by a mining company.
In the past few months, Poppy has put together a Wiradjuri dictionary that will both save the language of his people and tell their story. When August has come to terms with being back in the country with her extended family, her appreciation for her past, present and future changes dramatically at times.
While Winch has plenty to celebrate now, the process of writing the novel has been heartbreaking after the success of her hit 2006 debut Swallow the Air. Winch has spoken of the pressures and poverty she endured and raised her daughter as a single mother.
Winch said she felt that non-indigenous Australia was at a turning point in terms of First Nations languages. On Saturday night, Wiradjuri woman Olivia Fox hosted a rendition of the Australian national anthem in Eora language and English at the Western Sydney Stadium for the start of the Tri-Nations Test against Argentina.
« I really hope Scott Morrison saw this anthem, » said Winch. « I hope it moved him and that he will think about it . . . [and] how important our languages can be in our education system. This is not a new concept. «
Winch said she would now turn her attention to her next novel: a psychological thriller in the Swiss Alps. However, she assumes that as soon as she takes a European-based novel out of her system, she will write about her homeland again.
The Prime Minister’s Literature Prize for Nonfiction was awarded to two winners: the Gay’wu Women’s Group for Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom About Country Through Songlines and Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson.
In the poetry category, Omar Sakr won The Lost Arabs for his second collection. The Australian History Prize went to Deakin University lecturer Tiffany Shellam for her book Meeting the Waylo: Encounters with Aborigines in the Archipelago.
Wollongong-based writer Helena Fox won the Young Adult Literature Prize for her novel How it Feels to Float, while Jasmine Seymour and Cooee Mittigar took home the Children’s Literature Prize: A Story About Darug Songlines (with illustrations by Leanne Mulgo) Watson).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the winning work demonstrated that Australia is home to exceptional talent – both established and emerging.
« Literature plays an important role in connecting us to Australian voices and our history as a nation, » he said. « In a year like no other, the diverse contributions of local writers have never been more important to each of us. «
The prizes have the largest aggregate cash pool of any literary award in the country, with the 600. $ 000 will be shared among the winners.
Prime Minister’s Literature Awards, Literature, Tara June Winch, Miles Franklin Award, Publishing
World News – AU – Tara June Winch adds Prime Minister’s Literature Prize to the award
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