There have been two major events worthy of note in the last few weeks. Firstly, last Wednesday, UWA Publishing launched the novel Extinctions, written by Josephine Wilson, which was the winning manuscript in the inaugural Dorothy Hewett Award (2015). Secondly, this Wednesday, Fremantle Press celebrated forty years of publishing with a gala event at Fremantle Arts Centre, and awarded in doing so the 2016 T.A.G. Hungerford Award. These events, exciting in themselves, are worthy of note in the manner in which they reflect the dynamic literary culture within the Western Australian sector right now.
The T.A.G. Hungerford and the Dorothy Hewett Award are but two of the major Literary prizes on offer in Australia. These competitions give writers the chance to receive recognition for their work. These awards, and many like it, are imperative to discovering intelligent new works. The success of many Australian writers is supported by awards like these kick-starting their careers. Likewise, you don’t have to be a winner for this to happen.
For two such prestigious awards to be front and centre within the local sector is a credit to UWA Publishing and Fremantle Press. With the downgrading of the WA Premier’s Book Award to every second year, it is wonderful to see these prizes making the difference in soliciting and supporting new works.
So we thought we would spare a moment to recognise both these achievements and celebrate the successes they represent!
The Hungerford is given biennially to a full-length manuscript of fiction or creative non-fiction, by a Western Australian author previously unpublished in book form. The winner receives $12,000 from the City of Fremantle plus a publishing contract with Fremantle Press.
This year’s winner was Jay Martin, with the memoir Learning Polish. The manuscript details her adventures as a diplomat’s wife in Poland which include but are not limited to: “traipsing through a snow-bound Poznan in search of Minister Penny Wong’s preferred blend of coffee, lunching with the president and prime minister of Poland and sorting through three decades of embassy filing.” The book will be published in 2018.
Mayor Brad Pettitt awarded the prize and praised the shortlisted contenders for their hard work, talent and determination.
‘The fact that all five writers shortlisted for the last Hungerford Award have secured publishing contracts shows how important this award is to fostering new talent,’ Mayor Pettitt said.
These local awards thus not only support new voices, but they support the growth our literary community as well. They nurture the creative skills of local writers and offer a specific insight as to the richness of our literary culture. The work which has emerged, both in Martin’s manuscript and in Wilson’s newly published novel, opens up on universal questions, the issues we face as human beings.
Western Australian writer Josephine Wilson is proof of this. Winner of 2015’s Dorothy Hewitt Award for her novel, Extinctions: launched last week by fellow poet and academic, Lucy Dougan at The Grove Library.
UWA Publishing describe the novel: “Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction – natural, racial, national and personal – and what we can do to prevent them.”
Lucy praised the way Josephine Wilson depicted old age “as complex, crazy and difficult as any life stage”, and how Extinction “reflects so tenderly and intelligently on the complex territories of adoption and its sensitive consideration of the Stolen Generation.” You can read her full speech here, and you can purchase Extinctions here.
Westerly would like to congratulate both UWA Publishing and Fremantle Press for their continued support of Western Australian writing. Without these outlets working hard to connect emerging writers to our literary communities, our literary culture would not be as strong as it is today.