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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Winners of 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Award

Media release
2 November 2009

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Minister for the Arts Peter Garrett today announced the winners of the fiction and non-fiction categories of the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Mr Garrett said the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were established in 2008 to recognise the importance of Australian literature and to honour talented Australian writers. The winner of each category receives a prize of $100,000.

"The 2009 winners were selected from a fiction shortlist of seven books and the non-fiction shortlist of eight books," Mr Garrett said.

"The winner of the 2009 Fiction Award is author Nam Le for his debut book of brilliantly crafted short stories, The Boat. This book truly immerses readers in the lives of the characters and their places, cultures and customs as they each navigate their lives.

"The judges recommended this book for the daring scope and excellence of its execution, the generous breadth of its emotional and social traverse, and the excitement generated by every story.

"Two books share the 2009 Non-Fiction Award and the $100,000 prize: House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann by Evelyn Juers and Drawing the Global Colour Line by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds."

Evelyn Juers' book House of Exile traces the story of Heinrich Mann, the writer and brother of Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann, who found refuge in Los Angeles with his wife at a time when Australia was turning away Jews fleeing the Nazis. The judges said House of Exile is exquisitely written with the flow and emotional depth of a fine novel but anchored in deep and original scholarship.

Drawing the Global Colour Line brings a global view of how white racial policies evolved and shows how, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, countries worked together to exclude those defined as not-white.

The judges said it was a privilege to read this remarkable, masterful work. The book makes the racial policies that defined so much of Australian history more comprehensible by linking it to the dynamics of race around the world.

"I congratulate the winners on this significant honour. Each of these outstanding books promises to engage, stir and challenge readers and these are the hallmarks of great literature," Mr Garrett said.

The Fiction judging panel was comprised of Professor Peter Pierce, Dr Lyn Gallacher and Professor John Hay AC. Phillip Adams AO, Peter Rose and Professor Joan Beaumont make up the Non-Fiction judging panel.

The call for entries to the 2010 awards will take place in early 2010.

Commonwealth of Australia