MEDIA RELEASE: Jock Serong’s On the Java Ridge wins the 2018 Colin Roderick Literary Award
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Jock Serong’s third novel On the Java Ridge has won the 2018 Colin Roderick Award from the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies.
“The writing in On the Java Ridge leaves you breathless and there are passages that are brilliant!” the judging panel announced. “Serong brings together thriller, political critique, and adventure story in a way that might be reminiscent of James Bond, were it not that government’s turn out to be the most evil of all”.
On the Java Ridge skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a federal election looms and a hardline new policy on asylum-seekers is being rolled out. Not far from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers on board fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya's unborn sister. The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.
Jock on his newest award-winning novel - “I was a lawyer before I transitioned to a writer, and I worked with asylum seekers in detention centres, and on their Federal Court appeals. The people I met in the course of that work were the inspirations for some of the characters in On the Java Ridge, but what drove the story was an inner fury at the dishonesty of our public discussion about asylum seekers. Not a matter of left/right ideology, but our unwillingness as a nation to have a truthful discussion about refugees. It's an irony to me that fiction is out there reminding people to be honest”.
On the Java Ridge was shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Book Award for Fiction and a finalist in the Australian Surfing Awards Surf Culture category. Jock’s previous novel The Rules of Backyard Cricket was shortlisted for the 2017 Colin Roderick Literary Award and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. His debut novel Quota won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel.
Jock’s master storytelling continues with his next book Preservation which was released yesterday and is based on the true story of the Sydney Cove shipwreck in Bass Strait in 1797. A remarkable survival story detailing the fascinating instance of first contact between settlers and Aborigines in southern New South Wales. Jock is a founding editor and feature writer of Great Ocean Quarterly and works and lives in Port Fairy, Victoria.
The Colin Roderick Award is one of Australia's oldest literary awards, founded in 1967 by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies. The Foundation is based at James Cook University and aims to foster the study and appreciation of Australian literature. The award honours Professor Colin Roderick’s long contribution to Australian literature.
The Foundation presents the annual award to the value of $20,000, coupled with the silver H.T. Priestley Memorial Medal. These honour the best original book, in the judges’ opinion, published in Australia in the previous calendar year. Submissions can deal with any aspect of Australian life and can be from any field or genre of writing, verse or prose.
The Award will be presented to Jock Serong at the Foundation’s annual awards dinner at A Touch of Salt in Townsville at 8pm on Tuesday 30 October.
The other shortlisted titles for the award were Soon by Lois Murphy, Common People by Tony Birch, Tracker by Alexis Wright, Bird Country by Claire Aman and Taboo by Kim Scott.
Nicole Hawker – Foundation for Australian Literary Studies