2019

The winners of the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced at the State Library of Western Australia on Friday 7 August 2020 

The ceremony was live streamed via YouTube  and results live Tweeted  @statelibrarywa

Head to https://youtu.be/jECR0LxlhTI

The Premier’s Book Awards are Western Australia’s peak awards for writers and focus on supporting Western Australian writers with a major Fellowship awarded for the first time. At $60,000 the Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship is one of the most valuable awards in Australian arts.

These awards have been made available by the Western Australian Government and are managed by the State Library of Western Australia.

Show Winners / Short List

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA Fiction

Teela May Reid
Our Matriarchs Matter by Teela May Reid

Judges comments: ‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ introduces junior readers to the strength of First Nations women as powerful role models and the backbone of our communities. Its objective is to introduce First Nations Feminism to young readers using Wiradjuri language. Told through the life of a young Koori girl, ‘Our Matriarchs Matter’, centres black women as beautiful, powerful and the keeper of stories.

‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ is a powerful work of junior fiction that celebrates First Nations matriarchs using Wiradjuri language. A beautiful soaring tribute to the strength of matriarchs.

Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri & Wailwan woman, lawyer and activist born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW. Teela is a co-founder of @blackfulla_bookclub on Instagram, a platform that honours First Nations Ancestors as the original storytellers. Teela is currently a criminal defence lawyer based in Sydney, she is an advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process and a campaigner for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Teela was inspired by her little niece Lala May Reid who is a gifted little artist to collaborate and create the manuscript for the story: “Our Matriarchs Matter”.  Together, they tell a formidable story about the power of blackfulla Matriarchs as the backbones of our communities & their sacred healing spirits through the use of Wiradjuri language.

Krista Dunstan
Noble Intentions by Krista Dunstan

Noble Intentions is a compelling YA manuscript that creates a captivating fantasy world that will enthrall and delight readers.

 

Ellen van Neerven by Anna Jacobson
18 Comments by Ellen Van Neervan

18 Comments is an extraordinary manuscript and ground-breaking examination of racial discrimination for teenagers – using verse as a powerful way to begin a vital discussion.

 

Jannali Jones
Yenda by Jannali Jones

Yenda is a YA significant novel, with a compelling teenage voice and perspective. A powerful story about strange and mysterious forces at play and the strength within.

 

Elizabeth Stuart
Swell by Elizabeth Stuart

Swell’ is an evocative exploration of identity and coming of age, amid beautiful descriptions of the natural environment. ‘Swell’ presents a very promising work of junior fiction.

 

Emerging Writer

Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard
Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

Published by Fremantle Press, 2019

This powerful young adult novel shifts between the perspectives of teenagers Charlie, Zeke and Hammer as they unknowingly fight the same battle: whether to come out as gay in their small, conservative town. With a writing style both funny and devastating and vividly imagined characters and dialogue, Invisible Boys is timely, eye-opening and honest. 

Fabulous Lives by Bindy Pritchard
Fabulous Lives by Bindy Pritchard

Published by Margaret River Press, 2019

These stories feature a range of distinct voices and places that are brought to life with confidence and precision. In each, characters are captured at a pivotal moment that ultimately rewards readers with insight, tragedy and humour. Pritchard’s voice is knowing and contemporary, bestowing a feeling of assuredness on each narrative from its opening lines.

Rapture's Roadway by Virginia Jealous 
Rapture's Roadway by Virginia Jealous 

Published by Venture Press, 2019

In what the publisher describes as “a unique blend of poetry, memoir and travelogue”, Virginia Jealous takes the reader on a haunting odyssey in search of her father and the poet whose work and life obsessed him for most of his days – Laurence Hope, aka Violet Nicholson. Immersing herself in the work of Hope, who was briefly the best-known poet in the world, Jealous uncovers a world of passionate love that is often undercover, “a world in which anything is possible”.

Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories by Helen Milroy
Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories by Helen Milroy

Published by Fremantle Press, 2019

Milroy’s charming and well-crafted collection introduces young readers to a range of concepts and characters, with regular reflective passages allowing children to see themselves in the stories. The elegant prose and traditional teaching style make each of these Indigenous tales accessible to the target audience without ever speaking down to them. 

The Wooleen Way by David Pollock
The Wooleen Way by David Pollock

Published by Scribe Publications, 2019

In this cross-genre account of his monumental attempt to restore the degraded lands of his family pastoral property, David Pollock offers a unique insight into traditional farming practices in the southern rangelands of WA and a charming portrait of his formative years, filled with the love of nature and a deep knowledge of the outback. More importantly, his story offers a detailed and authoritative challenge to outback farming traditions and a plan to reverse the ecological damage done to the country since European colonisation.

Writing for Children

Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay​
Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay​

Published by Walker Books, 2019

This is a poignant story about love, life and grief that will be popular amongst middle grade readers. Set against the cosmic backdrop of Skylab’s return to Earth in 1979, Frankie must come to terms with the struggles of daily living as she navigates her way to adolescence. McKinlay skilfully constructs a narrative that frames the concerns and angsts of pre-teens within a historical event that highlights the fragility of human life.

Alex and the Alpacas Save the World by Kathryn Lefroy
Alex and the Alpacas Save the World by Kathryn Lefroy

Published by Fremantle Press, 2019

In her debut novel, Lefroy combines contemporary environmental issues with fantasy to create a quirky and entertaining story that will appeal to middle grade readers. Set in Tasmania, Alex must spend her Christmas holidays with her estranged Grandfather on his farm. Resigned to a boring summer, instead Alex finds herself immersed in a world of magic and prophecy and, with the help of four sassy talking Alpacas, Alex must save the world.

Let me Sleep, Sheep! by Meg McKinlay
Let me Sleep, Sheep! by Meg McKinlay, lllustrated by Leila Rudge

Published by Walker Books Australia, 2019

Amos is counting himself to sleep when suddenly, sheep arrive in his bedroom! Things quickly get out of hand as Amos tries to please his quirky visitors. This hilarious story with its wonderfully evocative pictures will delight parents as much as their children.

The Gift by Michael Speechley
The Gift by Michael Speechley

Published by Puffin Books, 2019 

A small act of kindness leads to a new friendship and a remarkable flowering of hope. Celebrating the joy of giving and the resilience of the human heart, this is a moving story beautifully told with resonant and sensitive illustrations.

Violet and Nothing by Fiona Burrows
Violet and Nothing by Fiona Burrows

Published by Fremantle Press, 2019

This joyful picture book follows Violet as she looks for nothing. Where is it and what can it be? With radiant illustrations of family life and the inside of an inquisitive child’s mind, Violet and Nothing is a delightful romp from start to finish.

Western Australian Writer's Fellowship

Amanda Curtin
Amanda Curtin

Amanda Curtin’s proposed new novel is an exciting work of literary historical fiction, narrated in part by a young Irish immigrant in 1890s gold-rush WA. Based on the life of Frederick Vosper, a historical figure who was both reformer and racist, and founder of the Anti-Asiatic League, the novel will explore society, history and politics in our state’s formative years.

Lucy Dougan photo by Tim Dolin
Lucy Dougan

Lucy Dougan’s proposed new collection of poems, ‘Monster Field,’ will respond to art, family, history, images, and the artist Paul Nash’s idea that some landscapes are ‘unseen merely because they are not perceived.’ Dougan’s ambitious work will be a sequence of short lyric poems about art, mortality, love, memory, and inter-generational disturbances.

Rafeif Ismail
Rafeif Ismail

Rafeif Ismail’s proposed work is titled ‘Something Like Revolution.’ The novel will combine the oral storytelling traditions of Sudan to explore social relationships in an identifiable future Australia. Through the use of multiple languages and commenting on xenophobia, this innovative novel will blend speculative fiction with African mythology in a contemporary Australian setting.

Caitlin Maling
Caitlin Maling

Caitlin Maling proposes a collection of poems entitled Little Flame. Maling discovered she was pregnant during the ‘long months of bushfires raging on both sides of Australia’, and her book will address these twin concerns: of pregnancy and environmental crisis. Her work will provoke important questions, about the future of hope in our present times and the ways in which writers might contribute to it.

Carl Merrison
Carl Merrison

Carl Merrison’s proposal is for an important new middle-grade series of books, telling the true stories of successful First Nations AFL players from the Kimberley. Kimberley Kickers will build on his work documenting ‘the struggles that outback remote kids face to achieve their dreams’. It will showcase unique West Australian stories, from hunting, fishing, and rodeo, to trips with elders, to complex family ties and homesickness.

Last updated on: 14 September 2020