Karen Wyld wins 2020 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

March 9, 2020

At the recent Perth Festival Literature and Ideas Weekend, the Copyright Agency’s Nicola Evans presented the 2020 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript to author and Copyright Agency member Karen Wyld for her manuscript, Where the Fruit Falls.

The prize includes $10,000 provided by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing. Where the Fruit Falls will be published in October 2020.

Karen observed that the Award: “provides a career boost for Australian writers. Partnerships between small presses like UWA Publishing, and not-for-profit organisations such as Copyright Agency, not only provide more opportunities for writers but also enrich Australian literature.”

Over 200 entries were received for this year’s Award, which was judged by Terri-ann White, Director of UWA Publishing; Elfie Shiosaki, Lecturer in the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia; and James Ley, author and contributing editor of Sydney Review of Books.

“I have a lot of respect for this year’s judges, so I am grateful they all saw something of value in my work,” Karen says.

A freelance writer and author from South Australia, Karen regularly contributes op-eds to NITV and IndigenousX and has been published in Al Jazeera, Meanjin, Junkee and The Guardian Australia. She reviews books for Books & Publishing and Sydney Review of Books. Her debut novel, When Rosa Came Home, was shortlisted for the 2015 SA People’s Choice Award.

“In Where the Fruit Falls, through the experiences of a young Aboriginal woman and her non-identical twin daughters, race-based government policies and social bigotry in mid-1900s Australia is emphasised,” Karen explains. “It’s not a story of trauma, as the narrative focuses on four generations of women from different backgrounds, asserting independence and following their aspirations.”

Additionally, she says, “This work has elements of magic realism, which is fitting for a story set in an era of socio-political change. I’ve recently become a Master’s candidate, researching how Aboriginal authors use this literary style to tell stories of agency and resistance.”

With familial links to Western Australia, Karen is delighted that her manuscript will be published by a local press: “I’m looking forward to working with UWAP staff, especially Terri-ann White. Small presses in Australia are publishing exceptional works and punching above their weight in awards. To ensure the growth of diversity in Australian literature, we need to keep backing UWAP.”

The Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript was created by UWA Publishing in 2015 and has been funded by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund from the start. Now in its fifth year, the Award has become a fixture on the Australian literary calendar and has launched the careers of many new Australian writers, including Angela Rockel (2019), Julie Watts (2018), Odette Kelada (2016), Miles Franklin Literary Award winner Josephine Wilson (2015), Carolyn Abbs and Kyra Giorgi.

The other shortlisted manuscripts for 2020 were:

  • The Sorry Tale of the Mignonette by Angela Gardner (QLD, poetry)
  • the Interpreter by Martin Kovan (NSW, fiction)
  • Fish Work by Caitlin Maling (WA, poetry)
  • Children of Lovers by Kylie Mirmohamadi (VIC, fiction)
  • The Rabbit Paperweight by Robin Riedstra (NSW, fiction)

Caitlin Maling’s collection of poetry, Fish Work, was highly commended by the judges and will also be published in October 2020 by UWA Publishing.

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