- Au is one of six major winners to share in Australia’s richest literary awards.
- The winners were chosen by an independent panel across six categories from a total of 643 entries.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said important to recognise “contribution writers and illustrators make to our cultural life”.
Author Jessica Au has won the $80,000 fiction prize at the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards with Cold Enough for Snow.
Her novella was published in the US, UK, and Australia in February 2022, thanks to winning the inaugural Novel Prize, and has been translated into 18 languages as well as winning other major gongs.
“It’s just been like nothing I expected really, but obviously incredibly gratifying and pleasing,” Au told AAP.
Au is one of six major winners to share in Australia’s richest literary awards announced at the National Library in Canberra on Thursday night, with a total prize pool of $600,000.
Sam Vincent has won the non-fiction prize for My Father and Other Animals, while Shannyn Palmer won the history category with Unmaking Angas Downs.
The awards reflect the government’s commitment to arts and culture, and build the international reputation of Australia’s writers, said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“Our creative sector is central to Australia’s soul and national identity – and it is important that the Australian Government recognises the contribution writers and illustrators make to our cultural life,” he said in a statement.
At just under 100 pages, Cold Enough for Snow is the story of a mother and daughter who go on holiday in Japan: they talk about childhood, family, clothes and horoscopes, yet there is both tenderness and distance between them.
“Au’s writing has a quietness, a sophistication of expression emerging from a hum of silence and thought,” the judging panel said.
“It signals a new direction in Australian literature, intricately structured and with a flow and reach that, like all remarkable writing, is without boundaries.”
The winners were chosen by an independent panel across six categories from a total of 643 entries.
It’s the first year the awards have been managed by Creative Australia, formerly the Australia Council, after several controversies including former prime ministers intervening in the results.
Au, for one, supports the move to Creative Australia, saying the prize should make a national statement about literature and culture.
“If it can fulfil that function as well as possible without the direct influence of any one person, I think that’s a good thing,” she said.
Although Au describes this latest award as an incredible windfall, the Melbourne-based author isn’t giving up her day job working part-time at a library.
There was a gap of more than ten years between Cold Enough for Snow and Au’s debut novel Cargo, and despite her success, she says she finds writing difficult.
“It’s just really hard to come up with an idea that will sustain itself meaningfully over the course of a novel,” she said.
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/au-works-part-time-at-a-library-shes-just-won-80-000-for-this-book/g5yf9dwvj Au works part-time at a Melbourne library. She’s just won $80,000 for this book