The winners of this year's New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Australia's thirty-one-year-old prize series, include two debut novelists, a decorated fiction writer, and an established poet attempting to fill a void in the library of her country.
Jordie Albiston, author of six books of poetry, won the thirty-thousand-dollar Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry for her collection of sonnets, the sonnet according to 'm' (John Leonard Press), written as a response to a dearth of Australian poetry written in the form.
''I was interested in applying the form to Australian language in particular," Albiston told the Australian newspaper the Age. "I wanted to contribute to the genre as an Australian.''
In fiction, two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee won the forty-thousand-dollar Christina Stead Prize for his novel Summertime (Harvill Secker). Andrew Croome received the UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) Glenda Adams Award for first fiction for his novel set during the Cold War, Document Z (Allen & Unwin), and Cate Kennedy, author of the short story collection Dark Roots (Grove Press, 2008), won the People's Choice Award for her first novel, The World Beneath (Scribe).
Memoirist Abbas El-Zein won the fifteen-thousand-dollar Community Relations Commission Award for Leave to Remain (University of Queensland Press), his story of individuals and families affected by war. Screenwriter Jane Campion received honors as well for Bright Star, her 2009 film about Romantic poet John Keats.
In the video below, debut author Croome talks about his experience writing his first novel.