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2015 Premier’s Literary Prizes

Celebrating books and writing

About

The winners of the 2015 Premier’s Literary Prizes were announced at Government House on Wednesday, 2 December 2015.

We congratulate the winning writers and thank the judges for their time and consideration in judging over 150 entries.

Tasmania Book Prize

For best book with Tasmanian content in any genre – $25 000.

This award is supported by the Tasmanian Government.

Winner – The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd by Quentin Beresford (New South Publishing)

Rise and Fall of Gunns coverThe story of Australia’s most controversial forestry giant, Gunns Ltd. At its peak, it was the largest private employer and land owner in Tasmania.

What the judges said

All the books shortlisted for the Tasmania Book Prize deal with the continuing impact of the past on the present. This is not surprising, as Tasmania is a place with a dark history, and dealing with the weight of it empowers much Tasmanian writing. As William Faulkner once said of the American South,
‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’

The prospect of negotiating a better future out of the past is the subtext for all three books shortlisted for the Tasmania Book Prize. The judges singled out The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd as the winner because of its brave and non-partisan approach to an issue that for many Tasmanians is still raw, but nevertheless, is important and needs to be told. The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd tells a difficult and painful story that has had an impact
on all aspects of Tasmanian politics and society. But good literature should raise uncomfortable questions. Nobody comes out of this meticulously researched history of the long-standing environmental wars looking good, but this is not a book about apportioning blame. It is an invitation for all of us
to accept responsibility for the future.

Margaret Scott Prize

For best book by a Tasmanian writer – $5 000.

This award is supported by the University of Tasmania.

Winner – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Random House Australia)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North coverA novel of the cruelty of war, tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014.

What the judges said

The four books shortlisted for the Margaret Scott Prize also deal – in their various ways – with the legacy of the past. Of these, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is the one that had the most lasting impact on the judging panel. This is an extraordinary and ambitious book that takes the reader into uncomfortable places, yet it is also a work full of hope. It resonates with the contradictions of war.
It gets under the reader’s skin and lingers there long after the last page has been turned. Of the two prizes, this is the one the judges approached as a straight-forward literary award, and The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the clear winner.

University of Tasmania Prize

For the best new unpublished literary work by an emerging Tasmanian writer – $5 000.

This award is supported by the University of Tasmania.

Winner – Soon by Lois Murphy

Lois MurphyInspired by the true story of Wittenoom, the ill-fated West Australia asbestos town, Soon is the story of the death of a haunted town, and the plight of the people who either won’t, or simply can’t, abandon all they have ever had.

What the judges said

The University of Tasmania Prize is awarded to Lois Murphy for her dark and powerful manuscript that takes the reader on a journey through a disturbingly new and hostile world. Lois’s characters carry their old ways into this new order with grave consequences if they don’t heed the signs. Her haunting
and persuasive tale which nods at the tropes of genre fiction while subverting and elevating them heralds a compelling new talent.

Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship

This award is supported by private philanthropists and is awarded to a young writer (aged 35 years and under) – $5 000.

Winner – Robbie Arnott

Robbie Arnott

What the judges said

The Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship is awarded to Robbie Arnott. Robbie’s work is refreshing, complex and confronting. His writing explores the origins of things, shockingly and tenderly and with a polish and professionalism that is a testament to his commitment to the writing craft.

2015 People’s Choice Awards

There awards are voted for by members of the public from the works shortlisted in each prize. We received 844 votes across all categories.

People’s Choice Winner – Tasmania Book Prize: To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson (Allen & Unwin).

People’s Choice Winner – Margaret Scott Prize: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Random House Australia).

People’s Choice Winner – University of Tasmania Prize: Blue Pollen Beautiful by Elizabeth Goodsir.