UWS features on shortlists for NSW literary awards

With a quick browse through the shortlists of the 2012 Premier’s Literary and History Awards, one will notice a number of outstanding works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry with strong links to the University of Western Sydney.

Shortlisted in The Christina Stead Prize ($40,000) for fiction is Five Bells, a novel by Professor Gail Jones from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and the Writing and Society Research Centre at UWS.

Shortlisted in The Australian History Prize ($15,000) for non-fiction is Mr Big of Bankstown: The Scandalous Fitzpatrick and Brown Affair, by Associate Professor Andrew Moore, also from the UWS School of Humanities and Communication Arts.

Shortlisted in The Kenneth Slessor Prize ($30,000) for poetry are Southern Barbarians by John Mateer and New and Selected Poems by Gig Ryan – collections published by the University’s own Giramondo Publishing Company.

Gail Jones is no stranger to the literary awards circuit – having been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award three times and announced winner of the WA Premier's Award for Fiction, the Nita B. Kibble Award, the Steele Rudd Award, the Age Book of the Year Award, the Adelaide Festival Award for Fiction and the ASAL Gold Medal.

Five Bells – her fifth novel – allows readers to delve into the personal histories and tragedies of four unique individuals over the course of a single day at Sydney’s tourism hotspot Circular Quay.

Mr Big of Bankstown: The Scandalous Fitzpatrick and Brown Affair is also the fifth book for noted historian Andrew Moore. His previous works, The Secret Army and the Premier and Francis De Groot: Irish Fascist Australian Legend, were shortlisted for the 1990 Marjorie Barnard literary award and the 2006 NSW Premier’s History Awards.

This latest offering tells the true, Underbelly-style story of western Sydney’s own Ray Fitzpatrick and Frank Browne – the rough Bankstown businessman and the trouble-making journalist who sent the Australian Parliament into a spin in the 1950s.

Professor Peter Hutchings, Dean of the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at UWS, congratulates Professor Jones and Associate Professor Moore on their nominations for the 2012 Premier’s Literary and History Awards, which “recognise the outstanding quality of their work in literature and history.”

Gig Ryan is an important figure in Australian poetry whose work is studied in high schools and universities. Her work has previously been shortlisted for the 2002 NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry and won the 1999 Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. Giramondo’s publication of New and Selected Poems has allowed her work to be offered for the first time as a whole collection.

Southern Barbarians offers a “contemporary re-charting” of the Portuguese traders who brought Europe to Japan in the sixteenth century. The book is the seventh collection of poems published in Australia by John Mateer, who in 2001 was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry.

Professor Ivor Indyk, Whitlam Chair in the Writing and Society Research Centre and founding editor of Giramondo, says “the presence of landmark collections by Gig Ryan and John Mateer on the awards shortlist confirms the important role Giramondo is playing in publishing contemporary Australian poetry.”

The New South Wales Premier’s Literary and History Awards are administered by the State Library of NSW in association with Arts NSW. The Awards have a proud history in celebrating achievement by Australian writers; helping to establish values and standards in Australian literature; and establishing values and standards in historical research and publication.

Past winners of the Literary Award include such notable writers as Peter Carey, David Malouf AO, Elizabeth Jolley, Thomas Keneally AO and Helen Garner. Past winners have included KS Inglis, Patricia Jalland, Inga Clendinnen, Bruce Scates and Raelene Frances.


6 November 2012