2024 Winners Western Australian Premier's Book Awards winners

The 2024 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced on Friday 7 June at the State Library of Western Australia, alongside two new inductees into the Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame.  

Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame 

Gail Jones is a celebrated novelist and academic from Western Australia. She is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels, including One Another (Text Publishing, 2024). Gail’s work has been translated into several languages and she has received numerous literary awards. She is Emeritus Professor at Western Sydney University. 

John Kinsella is a prolific poet who is strongly influenced by the Western Australian landscape. He also works as a novelist, essayist and editor, and teaches at Curtin University. His life’s work has been compiled in a new three-volume collection by UWA Publishing, spanning more than 40 years of writing.   

See who else is in the Hall of Fame.

Book Awards

First-time novelist Michael Thomas’s historical fiction novel The Map of William took home the Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer ($15,000). The rite-of-passage tale takes the reader on the expedition of a lifetime in Western Australia’s north-west.  

In the Children’s Book of the Year category ($15,000), Scout and the Rescue Dogs leapt to the winner’s podium. Described as a junior fiction novel perfect for young minds with tender souls by the Albany-based author Dianne Wolfer. 

The visceral and powerful World War II novel, A Better Place by Stephen Daisley, joined the ranks for Premier’s Prize for Book of the Year, sponsored by Writing WA ($15,000). Daisley’s novel has been lauded nationally and internationally.  

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Fiction ($15,000 and a publishing contract) was awarded to Dusty Tracks by daughter and mother writing duo Marly and Linda Wells, whose manuscript is set in Alice Springs and Central Australia. The Daisy Utemorrah Award is administered and funded by Broome-based Indigenous publisher Magabala Books with support from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Copyright Agency, and open to Indigenous writers Australia-wide. 

The night was topped off with a major win by Kylie Howarth who was the recipient of the $60,000 Western Australian Writer's Fellowship. Howarth is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Her commitment to inclusivity and ability to connect with young readers make her a worthy recipient of the prestigious Fellowship. 

Below you can read the judges comments, see photographs highlights and watch the award ceremony. See more social pictures on Facebook.

Judges Comments

The judging panel for the Book Awards and Fellowship consisted of twelve independent judges. We would like to thank them for there hard work, dedication and considered deliberation. The Daisy Utemorrah Award is administered and judged by Magabala Books.

2024 Judges

Carmen Grau, CJ Harte, Jayne Cleave, Julian Tompkin, Kim Forrester, Kris Williams, Leigha Chiasson-Locke, Dr Louise Helfgott, Megan McCracken (Chair), Peta Beasley, Tania Hudson and Toby Halsey. 

I am the Mau & other stories

I am the Mau is a finely crafted series of short stories.  Each tale provides a unique perspective about social issues experienced outside of the Anglosphere, with a particular focus on the authors native Kenya. This riveting and vital work will illuminate minds both young and old as it broadens the readers understanding of the complex and fraught world, we all share. 

The Map of William (WINNER)

The Map of William is an exquisitely crafted coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of Northwest Australia’s dark colonial past. This rollicking tale of adventure, friendship, and loyalty is equally funny and gripping. This book is destined to become a future classic, beloved by readers of all ages. 
 

Old Boy

This gritty work follows the early life of the authors Father, a larger-than-life working-class larrikin growing up in suburban Western Australia in the 70s and 80s. A compelling account of a surfing, footy boy falling into the grips of drugs, rock n’ roll and petty crime and living to tell the tale.  A compelling story of addiction, love and dumb luck. This tightly written book sure packs one hell of a punch. 

Salt River Road

Salt River Road is an impressive debut novel that explores grief, loss, and racism through the eyes of a family living in rural WA circa 1970. This mixed medium work deftly weaves together prose and poetry as it follows two young siblings who struggle to come to terms with the loss of their Mother. An intimate exploration of tragedy replete with unlikely redemption.
 

The Things We Live With

The Things We Live With is a considered collections of personal essays that explores memoir through objects. This hauntingly inciteful work overflows with references and ideas that are tasteful, recherché, and enlivening to the subject matter at hand. The author bravely shares their struggles in a courageous and insightful fashion. To pick up with book is to spend time with a brainy friend who you will want to keep close to your side. 

City of Light

City of Light will take you back in time to 1962 when astronaut John Glenn saw the City of Perth while orbiting the Earth in space! This is an important part of Western Australia’s local history and important reminder that even the smallest among us have the ability to make great and significant impact. It is a celebration of children and how their ideas captivate a community. Its evocative illustrations and gentle storytelling will undoubtedly delight and inspire readers young and old alike!  

The Eerie Excavation: An Alice England Mystery

The Eerie Excavation is resplendent with mystery, mayhem, intrigue, and oddities that will have readers cheering for Alice, Violet, and Cal from start to finish! At its core this is a story about friendship and believing in one’s own unique abilities. Despite being the second in a series, this adventure could be read as a stand-alone. This is a story that will resonate with young readers looking for adventure, a little quirk, and a gentle reminder that no matter what, you will find the people with whom you belong when you stay true to yourself.

A Friend for George

A Friend for George is an exquisite work of art. It is a charming and heartwarming story about friendship that will remind readers to love courageously and, in so doing, love and friendship will be returned in abundance. Readers of all ages will be captivated by the stunning illustrations, gentle meter, and profound moral. There is something to captivate on every page and it is a book that should be enjoyed time and time again. Hurrah to George!

Our Country: Where History Happened 

Our Country: Where History Happened is a captivating exploration of thousands of years of Australian history that celebrates the contributions of the various peoples who have been fundamental in shaping the country as it is today. Through vibrant illustrations and skilful narrative, Greenwood and Lessac contextualise a complicated history without being didactic and celebrate the rich tapestry of stories that reflect how our country came to be. This is an important book for readers of all ages to enjoy!

Scout and the Rescue Dogs  (WINNER)

Scout and the Rescue Dogs is a delightful story crafted with tenderness and genuine empathy. Scout is a courageous heroine who navigates a world of uncertainty from the loss of a parent, the ambiguities of friendship, and the devastations of bushfires. Readers will be captivated by Wolfer’s deft ability to pull at the heartstrings and generate belly laughs while also providing commentary on the realities of climate change, animal displacement, and the bravery of everyday heroes. At its heart, this is an utterly engrossing story about growing into oneself, found family, and above all, love. Readers, young and old, will cheer on Scout every step of the way!

Acacia: 6 Eyes on Yesterday by Dr Stephen Hagan

Acacia: 6 Eyes on Yesterday follows the journey of a young First Nations teen Acacia and her friends Toby and Allyson as they travel back to Yesterday, a place where you can witness moments in history as invisible visitors. They experience walking in the shoes of First Nations people from the years 1555, 1788, 1955 and 2022 and when they finally return home, they are left with questions about the true story of Australian history. 
 

Brothers in Arms by Maureen Glover 

Brothers in Arms explores the tragic reality of war, whilst showing the comradery which developed between both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians on the frontline. It is based on fact and explores Maureen’s grandfather’s participation in the war effort as an indigenous Australian, friendships which develop and his life back in Australia where he meets the love of his life. It covers the brutal truth of mustard gas exposure which led to his death on the day his son turned four.  
 

Underneath the Surface by Elise Thornthwaite 

Underneath the Surface follows the journey of Elly, a young Aboriginal girl navigating the complexities of adolescence in the small town of Wirra Creek. Struggling with the aftermath of her father's sudden departure, Elly finds solace in her deep friendship with Jiemba and an unexpected connection with Liam, a popular boy at school. As Elly grapples with her own feelings of loss and longing, she discovers that Liam carries his own burdens, including the responsibility of caring for his disabled sister, Claire. When Claire's health takes a sudden turn for the worse, Elly and Liam find themselves drawn together in a bond of shared adversity, leaning on each other for strength and support. 

Underneath the Surface explores themes of friendship, resilience, and the healing power of love in the face of adversity. As Elly and Liam confront their fears and insecurities, they discover that true strength lies not in facing challenges alone, but in leaning on each other and facing the future together, one step at a time." 

Dusty Tracks by Marly & Linda Wells  (WINNER)

Dusty Tracks is young adult historic fiction, set in Central Australia in modern times as well as 100 years ago. 13-year-old Millie has a white Australian mother and a Warlpiri father and lives in Alice Springs. One day she borrows a book, Dusty Tracks: Growing up Together on the Central Australian Frontier, set in Central Australia 100 years earlier.  

Millie gets swept up into the book and joins in with the young people of that story. They are Sonny, a young man from the Aboriginal camp on the station; Spike, a white girl who lives in the homestead; and Beryl who has run away from the Bungalow Institute in Alice Springs to go back home and find her family. Millie learns about life 100 years ago including the racism and poor treatment of her people.  

A Better Place (WINNER)

An extraordinarily powerful novel follows twin brothers from rural New Zealand separated on the battlefields of World War II. Using short, sharp prose, it creates a visceral and suspenseful read, vividly depicting the violence and chaos of war while contrasting it with moments of love and tenderness among soldiers. It neither glorifies war, nor shies away from the horror. The narrative re-examines the ANZAC legend, questioning the morality of soldiers' actions. The story's emotional depth leaves a lasting impact, balancing horror with hope and capturing the reader's heart. It's a masterful work of fiction, faultlessly written and profoundly moving.

Cellnight: A verse novel

This bold and ambitious verse novel intertwines the controversial visit of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet to Fremantle in the early 1980s (when the Cold War was at its height) with an aboriginal death in custody. John Kinsella fuses sonnets with vivid storytelling to explore anti-nuclear protests, systemic racism, politics and environmentalism. His use of poetic form and stunning imagery creates a narrative that demands multiple readings to fully appreciate its depth. The book's blend of historical issues and social commentary makes it a truly original work, showcasing Kinsella's masterful ability to bring these themes to life in a powerful and accessible way.

The Memory of Trees

A heartfelt tribute to Western Australia’s eucalyptus forests blends personal experience with scientific insight, exploring the relationship between humans and trees. The author details how logging, land clearing, mining and climate change have imperilled these botanically rich forests. While the situation is dire, the book offers hope through collaborations between Western science and First Nations knowledge. Combining factual ecological information with the author's personal reflections, this work is both informative and inspiring, urging readers to become more environmentally conscious. It is a moving and impactful examination of our most important flora.

Operation Hurricane

Operation Hurricane is a fascinating and meticulously researched account of Britain’s first atomic test in Australia, conducted on the Montebello Islands in 1952. It offers a uniquely Australian perspective, detailing the operation's political, social and environmental impacts, including effects on Commonwealth soldiers, airmen and civilians. Paul Grace masterfully brings the controversial operation to life through detailed research and a narrative that reads like a well-plotted novel. His engaging style, extensive use of archival material and personal interviews make this a riveting and eye-opening account of a pivotal moment in history, a triumph of storytelling and editorial prowess.

What’s for Dinner?

A compelling narrative non-fiction delves into the history and science of our food supply chains, focusing on the plant and animal species that dominate our diets. It examines the impact of climate change and technological advances on food production, offering an Australian perspective on how food reaches our supermarkets. Masterfully written, the book balances extensive research with readability, making complex topics accessible. It doesn’t tell readers what think but encourages them to reflect on their consumption choices and the processes behind them, providing a nuanced and engaging analysis of an essential subject.

Lucy Dougan

Lucy Dougan writes with vulnerability about relatable domestic, social and political issues. Her work has broad accessibility and is filled to the brim with anthems about our age. A voice that deserves to be shared with a wide range of readers, Lucy writes poetry that is both complex and inviting, drawing the reader in to explore scenarios that confront life, emptiness, beauty and death.

Alan Fyfe

Alan Fyfe writes of the invisible realm – the outer margins where those who don’t fit into a traditional sense of society exist. His work fills an important gap in Australian literature, focusing on the working class (and underclass) from lived experience. Alan’s ambition is to give a voice to those who are often shunned or silenced, and this goal is a crucial one in modern Australia.

Kylie Howarth (WINNER)

Kylie Howarth has a tremendous talent for engaging young readers, through a clever mix of education, entertainment and cheeky humour. Her illustrations are eye-catching and inclusive. Her ambitious and exciting goal is to move into new geographic areas in a graphic novel format that will appeal to readers across a wide range of ages, abilities and ethnicities. Kylie’s work in getting more children into reading through highly compelling artistic and literary storytelling is critically important.

Laurie Steed

Laurie Steed writes in the great tradition of Australian storytellers, unearthing the extraordinary in the ordinary. His voice resonates with many readers, and his goal to produce an intriguing hybrid fantasy/realise novel is both ambitious and compelling. Laurie’s work is an important contribution to the sociological exploration of Australia and its complex and often contradictory sense of self. 

Emma Young

Emma Young has a compelling way of bringing a light touch to heavy topics. With great accessibility to the general reader, Emma’s work is also deeply perceptive and prescient. Her work raises Perth stories above the parapet and asks us to notice the every day. Emma is unafraid of wielding her writing prowess across various themes and genres.

Shortlist

Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Fiction ($15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books)

  • Dr Stephen Hagan – Acacia: 6 Eyes on Yesterday
  • Maureen Glover – Brothers in Arms
  • Elise Thornthwaite – Underneath the Surface
  • Marly and Linda Wells – Dusty Tracks - Winner

Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer ($15,000)

  • I am the Mau and other stories by Chemutai Glasheen, published by Fremantle Press
  • The Map of William by Michael Thomas, published by Fremantle Press - Winner
  • Old Boy by Georgia Tree, published by Fremantle Press
  • Salt River Road by Molly Schmidt, published by Fremantle Press
  • The Things We Live With by Gemma Nisbet, published by Upswell Publishing

Premier’s Prize for Children’s Book of the Year ($15,000)

  • City of Light, written by Julia Lawrinson, illustrated by Heather Potter and Mark Jackson, published by Wild Dog Books
  • The Eerie Excavation: An Alice England Mystery by Ash Harrier, published by Pantera Press 
  • A Friend for George, written and illustrated by Gabriel Evans, published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia
  • Our Country: Where History Happened, written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac, published by Walker Books Australia
  • Scout and the Rescue Dogs by Dianne Wolfer, published by Walker Books Australia - Winner

Premier’s Prize for Book of the Year, sponsored by Writing WA ($15,000)

  • A Better Place by Stephen Daisley, published by Text Publishing - Winner
  • Cellnight: A verse novel by John Kinsella, published by Transit Lounge
  • The Memory of Trees by Viki Cramer, published by Thames & Hudson Australia
  • Operation Hurricane by Paul Grace, published by Hachette Australia
  • What’s for Dinner? by Jill Griffiths, published by Thames & Hudson Australia

Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship ($60,000)

  • Lucy Dougan
  • Alan Fyfe
  • Kylie Howarth  - Winner
  • Laurie Steed
  • Emma Young

Watch the Award Ceremony

Highlights video