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2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes winners

The winners of the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes were announced at Government House on Monday, 27 November 2017.

We congratulate the winning writers and thank the judges for their time and consideration.

Click here to view the shortlists and longlists for the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes.

Tasmania Book Prize

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

This award is supported by the Tasmanian Government.

Publisher’s summary

Into the Heart of Tasmania tells a story of discovery and realisation. English gentleman Ernest Westlake’s ambition in 1908 to rewrite the history of human culture inspires an exploration of the controversy stirred by Tasmanian Aboriginal history. It brings to life how Australian and British national identities have been fashioned by shame and triumph over the supposed destruction of an entire race. To reveal the beating heart of Aboriginal Tasmania is to be confronted with a history that has never ended.

What the judges said

This beautifully written and engaging book succeeds on many levels. Earnest Westlake sailed from Britain in 1908 in the hope that in Tasmania he might discover the key to Europe’s distant past. Although he left weighed down with Aboriginal stone tools and with research books filled with notes, his big discovery turned out to be an Aboriginal Tasmanian inspired vision for post-First World War Britain. Rebe Taylor’s detailed reconstruction of Westlake’s life hinges on the telling of two journeys. The one Westlake took on foot and by bicycle into the heart of Tasmania and her parallel journey, her own research notebook in hand, to Cape Barren Island and the Jordan River Levee. The story of a continuous culture emerges from her detailed reconstruction of Westlake’s voluminous archive housed in a museum in Oxford and her own growing realisation of the limits of Western history. Into the Heart of Tasmania is a masterful book that pierces the skin of the past, but also has a weather eye fixed firmly on 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 Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, published by Allen & Unwin

Publisher’s summary

A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection – a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present.

This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.

What the judges said

In this memorable book Heather Rose magically transforms the insistently embodied work of performance artist Marina Abramovic into a world accessed through words alone. Abramovic’s 2010 performance, The Artist is Present, was distinctly original. This engaging and deeply touching literary counterpart is similarly inventive. Heather Rose’s cast of characters connect via Abramovic in this deeply human and vibrant novel. Just as New York’s Museum of Modern Art was central to Abramovic’s performance, Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art hovers over Heather Rose’s novel as an invisible and potent presence. Like the museum of its setting in New York, and the museum of its composition in Hobart, this book is an inspiring testimony to the power of art to draw us out of the ordinary, and after mesmerising and confusing us, to return us to ourselves the same and yet different.

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.

WinnerBrodsky Dies by Adam Ouston

Author’s summary

Brodsky Dies is a dark comedy—you might even call it a slapstick nightmare—that follows ageing professor of European literature, Bruce Brodsky, from Australia to Austria and Germany where he has been invited to interview the reclusive author Georg Winter. Nobody knows who Winter is; speculation about his identity is rife. There have been hoaxes before. Brodsky, in declining health and put out to pasture by his university, accepts Winter’s invitation and decides to go, fearing all the way that the whole thing is a joke at his expense being played on him by his old academic rivals. The novel is about contemporary travel, tourism, and the quest for authenticity, Australian visions of Europe, cultural exchange, the literary life and, at the end of it all, love.

What the judges said

The University of Tasmania Prize is awarded to Adam Ouston for Brodsky Dies, an engaging, intriguing, polished, and insistent literary work that masters both depth and detail and maintains its narrative tension right to the end. Ouston’s central character leads us to question death, worth, identity, and the meaning of literature and of a life well lived, as he traverses a world both vivid and well-constructed. The apparent ease with which this work is communicated belies a complex and carefully wrought structure. This is a novel of great confidence.

Tasmanian Young writer’s Fellowship

This award is supported by private philanthropists and is awarded to a young writer (aged 30 years and under) – $5 000.

Winner: Erin Hortle

Erin Hortle is a Hobart-based writer of fiction and essay and a Creative Writing PhD student at the University of Tasmania. Her writing has been featured in many publications throughout Australia, including OverlandKill Your Darlings, Island, White Horses and Transportation. An ongoing concern of her academic and freelance writing is the cultural inscription of the more-than-human world. Her work explores the ways in which creative writing helps us to understand how such inscriptions function, and how this, in turn, facilitates new ways of imagining.

What the judges said

The Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship is awarded to Erin Hortle, whose writing is diverse and assured; Hortle shows great promise as a writer of both fiction and personal essay. Her fiction brings an almost visceral poetry to both every day and unusual settings, and her command of imagery is excellent. In her nonfiction she offers an energetic, honest voice portraying a particular picture of life as a young woman in this state, tying her subjective experience to broader questions and ideas.

2017 People’s Choice Awards

Members of the public were able to read extracts from the shortlisted books and manuscripts on the Tasmanian Arts Guide and vote for their favourites. We received almost 1 000 votes in the 2017 People’s Choice Awards.

People’s Choice Winner – Tasmania Book Prize: Losing Streak by James Boyce (Black Inc.)

People’s Choice Winner – Margaret Scott Prize: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin)

People’s Choice Winner – University of Tasmania Prize: A Guide to Bushwalking in Tasmania by Ben Walter

About the Premier’s Literary Prizes

The Premier’s Literary Prizes, the Tasmanian State Government’s literary awards, celebrate the richness of the Tasmanian literary sector and acknowledge the particular influence that Tasmania has on written work.

The prizes provide recognition for both established and emerging Tasmanian writers, as well as acknowledging the increasing influence Tasmania has on authors from elsewhere around Australia and the world. They also recognise the work of emerging and young writers and provide a mechanism to recognise and nurture new voices.