2021 Queensland Literary Awards winners announced

A book reclaiming the history of how Aboriginal workers were once paid in opium has won the richest prize at the 2021 Queensland Literary Awards this evening.

Renowned visual artist Dr Fiona Foley was awarded the $25,000 Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance for her book Biting the Clouds: A Badtjala perspective on the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897 (University of Queensland Press) at a ceremony at State Library.

Judges praised her “original and creative exploration … of the devastation wrought upon Queensland’s Badtjala people at the end of the 19th century”.

“The little-known story of how Badtjala workers were paid in opium is inventively told in dialogue between her art and text, reclaiming the story for her own people and for the wider Australian community,” the judges said.

Dr Foley was also State Library’s inaugural 2020 Monica Clare Research Fellow.

Award winners took home a total of $238,500 in prize money across 11 categories that include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s, young adult fiction, short story, and unpublished work.

The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award was won by Nardi Simpson for Song of the Crocodile (Hachette Australia). The manuscript for this debut novel is a wonderful outcome from a 2018 black&write! Fellowship with State Library.

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award was won by Luke Stegemann for Amnesia Road: Landscape, violence and memory (NewSouth Publishing).

Bindi by Kirli Saunders and illustrated by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books) secured the Children’s Book Award and this beautiful story of childhood innocence, family, community, and hope has won awards and been short and long listed around the country.

And this year’s Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards went to Allanah Hunt and Ellen Wengert.

The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award, which was open to public voting, was awarded to Mary’s Last Dance: The untold story of the wife of Mao’s Last Dancer by Mary Li (Penguin Random House).

State Library of Queensland proudly manages the awards in collaboration with sponsors, industry partners and the writing community.2021 Queensland Literary Awards winners

Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance
Awarded to an outstanding work, by an Australian writer, focused on documenting, discussing or highlighting a uniquely Queensland story.
Prize: $25,000
Biting the Clouds: A Badtjala perspective on the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897 by Fiona Foley (University of Queensland Press)

Queensland Writers Fellowships
Awarded to three (3) established Queensland authors to advance a writing project over a 12-month period. There was no shortlist for this prize.
Prize: three Fellowships of $15,000 each, plus professional development support to the value of $4,500
Tabitha Bird for ‘The Healing Giggle of Wonder’
Ella Jeffery for ‘Split Level’
Kali Napier for ‘Preserving: Stories’

Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards
Awarded to two (2) outstanding Queensland writers up to 30 years of age.
Prize: two awards of $10,000 plus career development support to the value of $2,500 each
Allanah Hunt
Ellen Wengert

The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award
Awarded to an outstanding work of fiction by an Australian writer.
Prize: $15,000
Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson (Hachette Australia)

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award
Awarded to an outstanding work of non-fiction by an Australian writer.
Prize: $15,000
Amnesia Road: Landscape, violence and memory by Luke Stegemann (NewSouth Publishing)

Children’s Book Award
Awarded to a work, suitable for children up to 12 years old, by an Australian writer.
This award is supported by Susan Hocking and Ian Mackie, and their family, through the Hocking Mackie Trust at APS Foundation.
Prize: $15,000
Bindi written by Kirli Saunders and illustrated by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books)

Griffith University Young Adult Book Award
Awarded to a work, suitable for young adults aged 13 to 19, by an Australian writer.
Prize: $15,000
Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore (Text Publishing)

University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection
Awarded to an outstanding collection of short stories by an Australian writer.
Prize: $15,000
Ordinary Matter by Laura Elvery (University of Queensland Press)

Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection
Awarded to an outstanding collection of poetry by an Australian writer.
This award is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
Prize: $15,000
Terminally Poetic by Ouyang Yu (Ginninderra Press)

David Unaipon Award for an Emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Writer
Awarded for an outstanding manuscript by an unpublished Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writer.
This award is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
Prize: $15,000, plus manuscript development and publication with University of Queensland Press
Ngankiburka-mekauwe (Senior Woman of Water) Georgina Williamsfor ‘Mekauwe=Tears Volume #1 Poems (Notes For Song) 1970-2020’

Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer
Awarded for an outstanding manuscript by an unpublished Queensland writer.
This award is supported by Jenny Summerson through the Queensland Library Foundation.
Prize: $15,000, plus manuscript development and publication with University of Queensland Press
Siang Lu, ‘The Whitewash’

The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award
Awarded to an outstanding book by a Queensland author, taken from eligible books entered in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. The winner of this award was determined by public vote.
Prize: $10,000
Mary’s Last Dance: The untold story of the wife of Mao’s Last Dancer by Mary Li (Penguin Random House)

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