Kim Scott wins top honours at NSW literary awards

Noongar author Kim Scott.

NATIONAL: It’s been quite a year for Indigenous artists and writers.

And the latest winner is Kim Scott, the Noongar writer, who on Friday won a combined $50,000 for two NSW Premier’s Literary awards for his novel, That Deadman Dance.

He received $40,000 for the Christina Stead Prize and $10,000 for Book of the Year.

Set on the WA coast at the start of the 19th century, That Deadman Dance is a story of early encounters between Noongar people and European settlers.

The judges said the book is “peopled with a broad cast of compelling, complex characters” and a “work of astounding beauty”.

Thirty-three judges read hundreds of nominations for the nine literary awards and five history awards, with a collective value of around $360,000 in prize money.

Expat writer, journalist and commentator Clive James CBE AM was awarded the Special Award worth $10,000.

This award, given under exceptional circumstances, isn’t open to entry and can’t be awarded to a work that has been submitted to the awards.

James, 73, who has leukaemia, was a member of the Aussie “Push” who went to London in the early 1960s and included feminist Germaine Greer.

He was Britain’s leading TV critic, for The Observer from 1972 to 1982, and later became well known for programs including Clive James on Television and The Clive James Show, as well as documentaries.

His autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs, is his best known book.

In June, James said he was “getting near the end” after several years of illness.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said recognising James’ achievements in this way was a “fitting tribute to a great Australian writer and a great son of Sydney”.

He said James had had an “extraordinarily prolific and successful career” and has “pioneered and championed the idea of an internationalised Australian culture through his poetry, novels, memoirs, works of literary criticism and scriptwriting”.

Writer Gail Jones was awarded the People’s Choice Award for Five Bells, a novel set in Circular Quay, Sydney, one sparkling summer’s day.


- The Christina Stead Prize ($40,000): Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance (Pan Macmillan Australia).

- The UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing ($5,000): Rohan Wilson, The Roving Party (Allen & Unwin).

- The Douglas Stewart Prize ($40,000): Mark McKenna, An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark (Miegunyah, MUP)

- The Kenneth Slessor Prize ($30,000): Gig Ryan, New and Selected Poems (Giramondo Publishing)

- The Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000): Kate Constable, Crow Country (Allen & Unwin)

- The Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature ($30,000): Penni Russon, Only Ever Always (Allen & Unwin)

- Nick Enright Prize, formerly the Play Award ($30,000): Joint winners: Vanessa Bates, Porn.Cake. (Malthouse Theatre); Joanna Murray-Smith, The Gift (Melbourne Theatre Company, Currency Press).

- The Betty Roland Prize, formerly The Scriptwriting Award ($30,000): Peter Duncan, Rake (Episode 1): R v Murray (ABC TV).

- The Community Relations Commission for a multicultural NSW Award ($20,000): Tim Bonyhady, Good Living Street: The Fortunes of My Viennese Family (Allen & Unwin).

- Special Award ($10,000): Clive James CBE AM ($10,000).

- People’s Choice Award: Gail Jones, Five Bells (Random House Australia)

- Book of the Year ($10,000): Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance (Pan Macmillan Australia).

- Australian History Prize ($15,000): Russell McGregor, Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation (Aboriginal Studies Press).

- The General History Prize ($15,000): Tim Bonyhady, Good Living Street: The Fortunes of My Viennese Family (Allen & Unwin.

- The New South Wales Community and Regional History Prize ($15,000): Deborah Beck, Set in Stone: A History of the Cell Block Theatre (UNSW Press).

- Young People’s History Prize ($15,000): Stephanie Owen Reeder, Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (National Library of Australia).

- The Multimedia History Prize ($15,000): Catherine Freyne and Phillip Ulman, Tit for Tat: The Story of Sandra Willson (Hindsight, ABC Radio National).


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