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Tara June Winch, an Australian (Wiradjuri) writer based in France, has been awarded the coveted Premier’s Award at this year’s Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. As the state’s highest literary honour, Ms Winch wins $25,000 for her novel The Yield, described by the judges as an exceptional and defining work of Australian literature. It is a complex story of 200 years of memory and experience, captured in language that flexes and pulls.

Also winning the $15,000 Fiction Award, Ms Winch beat 36 other highly talented shortlisted winners from around Australia.

The awards, which celebrate Australia’s writing culture, were announced in a ceremony on the opening day of Adelaide Writers’ Week in the Pioneers Women’s Memorial Gardens, as part of the 2022 Adelaide Festival.

Group of people standing on a stage.
From left to right: Peter Beaglehole, Rachael Mead, Karen Wyld, Katrina Nannestad, Helen Ennis, Leanne Hall, Poppy Nwosu and Roanna McClelland. (Tara June Winch and Jordie Albiston were absent from the award ceremony) Photo by James Field.

Leanne Hall (VIC), described as an outstanding achievement in Australian young adult literature, won the $15,000 Young Adult Fiction Award for her novel The Gaps. While Katrina Nannestad (VIC) has been awarded the Children’s Literature Award ($15,000) for her gripping and beautifully crafted novel, We are Wolves. A beautifully realised and deeply respectful work, Olive Cotton: A Life in Photography, by photographer and writer Helen Ennis (ACT) took out the $15,000 Non-Fiction Award.

South Australian authors Rachael Mead, for The Art of Breaking Ice, and Poppy Nwosu, for Beasts, were also awarded fellowships worth $15,000 each. After having no entries in 2020 for the Tangkanungku Pintyanthi Fellowship, this year Karen Wyld was awarded $15,000 for her work, Lovely's Valley.

Local playwright, Peter Beaglehole has won the $12,500 Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award for Calendar Days, an offbeat experimental piece about classism and finding solidarity in precarious work. The winner of the $10,000 Arts South Australia Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award is South Australian writer, Roanna McClelland for her highly memorable and bold work, The Comforting Weight of Water. The prize also includes publication of the manuscript by Wakefield Press.

Sadly, Victorian poet Jordie Albiston passed away a few days before the award ceremony. Ms Albiston was posthumously awarded the John Bray Poetry Award for her work, Fifteeners, which judges found “utterly enrapturing” and noted she wrote with an unmatchable precision.

The biennial awards offer a total prize pool of $167,500 across six national and five South Australian categories, including three fellowships for South Australian writers.

The awards, managed by the State Library of South Australia, began in 1986. They highlight the importance of our unique South Australian writers, and contribute to and support community engagement with literature.

Geoff Strempel, Director State Library of South Australia said,

“Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s awards on their success and recognition of their outstanding literary talent. We continue to be impressed with the high quality of works showcased through the literature awards. It highlights that Australia has a strong and diverse literary community.“

The 2022 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature winners are:

National Awards for published works

Premier’s Award ($25,000) and Fiction Award ($15,000)
The Yield by Tara June Winch (NSW, based in France) (Penguin Random House Australia)

Children’s Literature Award ($15,000)
We are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad (VIC) (ABC Books: an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

John Bray Poetry Award ($15,000)
Posthumously awarded to Jordie Albiston (VIC) for her work Fifteeners (Puncher and Wattmann)

Non-Fiction Award ($15,000)
Olive Cotton: A Life in Photography by Helen Ennis (ACT) (HarperCollins Publishers)

Young Adult Fiction Award ($15,000)
The Gaps by Leanne Hall (VIC) (Text Publishing)

South Australian Fellowships and Awards

Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship ($15,000)
The Art of Breaking Ice by Rachael Mead

Max Fatchen Fellowship ($15,000)
Beasts by Poppy Nwosu

Tangkanungku Pintyanthi Fellowship ($15,000)
Lovely's Valley by Karen Wyld

Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award ($12,500)
Calendar Days by Peter Beaglehole

Arts South Australia Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award ($10,000)
The Comforting Weight of Water by Roanna McClelland

Media contact

Lucy Guster
Acting Manager, Engagement & Marketing
State Library of South Australia
0409 091 829
lucy.guster@sa.gov.au

Download the media release