PF Rowland Memorial Fund

The PF Rowland Memorial Fund is auspices through the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and in 2021 it has supported the Viva la Novella collaboration with Brio Books.


Image: Recipient Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

The Foundation for Australian Literary Studies (FALS) is proud to announce Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa as the recipient of the first $5,000 PF Rowland Manuscript Development Grant, in partnership with Upswell Publishing, to support an emerging writer.

Associate Professor Roger Osborne, FALS Executive Director, said the grant is part of the Foundation’s dedication to celebrating Australian writers and writing for more than 56 years.

“This grant is to support an emerging writer to bring their manuscript to completion with much-needed financial support and the chance to work with Terri-ann White and Upswell Publishing,” he said.

“It is our great pleasure to announce Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa as the first recipient of this grant that will allow her to complete Fully Sikh: hot chips and turmeric stains.”

The grant is made possible by the P. F. Rowland Memorial Fund, which has previously partnered with Brio Books in 2021 and 2022 to support the Viva Novella Prize.

The Foundation for Australian Literary Studies also awards the annual Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award for the best Australian book of the year in any genre.

Fully Sikh: hot chips and turmeric stains:

Sukhjit knows a thing or two about telling a story. From her experience on stages and in front of live and television audiences, she now offers us her first book. Sukhjit reflects on her own experience as a Sikh-Australian woman, performing it against a backdrop of comfort and calamity: how we live our lives in a messy and multi-layered society.

Using the staging of meals as her mode, Sukhjit explores presumptions and the nuances of all that we can bring to the table. She plays with the etiquette of what is carried into public arenas and what stays in our private worlds: our aspirations and heritage, and all our baggage. There are no exclusionary zones for this courageous, passionate, irreverent, and very funny, writer.

For release in early 2025 by Upswell Publishing.


Sukhjit Kaur Khalsais a writer, performer, theatre-maker, filmmaker, and producer based in Boorloo. Her work as a multi-form artist for the last ten years has been recognised at the Performing Arts WA Awards (2020), Mona Brand Writing Awards (2022), WA Multicultural Awards (2022) and Young Australian Sikh of the Year (2023). Her passion for storytelling began as a finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam (2014), semi-finalist on Australia’s Got Talent (2016) and winner of The Moth Grand Slam (2019).

Sukhjit premiered her sell-out theatre work Fully Sikh with Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Black Swan Theatre Company (2019). Since then, she has been developing her comedy series What Would Suki Do? with support from ABC TV, and is currently producing A Hairy Tale, a documentary exploring female body hair. Sukhjit presented at Tedx UWA (2017), Tedx Newtown (2019) and has supported Missy Higgins and L-Fresh the Lion on their national tours. Her poetry and community arts projects have led her to tour globally and across her nation.

Sukhjit and her partner, Perun Bonser, were selected to develop their rom-com series One of the Good Ones at Ron Howard & Brian Grazer’s talent lab, Impact Australia (2020). They premiered their video installation work Between Breaths at Goolugatup Heathcote Art Gallery (2022), and the work toured in 4A Contemporary Asian Art Centre’s Bush Diwan (2022-23). Sukhjit worked as a story-telling trainer at the Centre for Stories and has produced storytelling and theatre projects for adults and school students. Collectables, her debut hip-hop single, is now streaming on all platforms.

Sukhjit is currently the Executive Director of The Blue Room Theatre in Perth/Boorloo.

In 2021, FALS partnered with Brio Books to sponsor a prize in the Viva la Novella competition to encourage contributions from regional writers. In response, writers sent novella manuscripts from regional areas across all states and territories, a substantial increase in regional entries from previous years in the competition. Shortlisted writers were:

  • Christine Balint, Water Music
  • Kim Kelly, Rat Catcher
  • Andy Maconachie, Palm Cove
  • Eireann Nakivell, Blame

The winner for 2021, announced in September in an online reveal and attended by more than fifty writers, editors and readers from across Australia, was Christine Balint for Water Music.

FALS partnership with Brio Books and Viva la Novella also includes an opportunity for a JCU student to shadow the editing and production process with editor Alice Grundy. The student selected for this opportunity was Lianda Burrows, who is currently completing her PhD in Australian literary studies at JCU.

In 2022, FALS has partnered with Brio Books and Viva la Novella once again, and judging for the prize is currently underway, with a strong group of regional entries making the judges job a hard one. Another JCU student will also have the opportunity to shadow the editing and production process. The shortlist for 2022 will be published in March, and the winner announced later in the year.

Lianda Burrows (current JCU Postgraduate student) has been shadowing Alice Grundy with editing with David Henley (Brio Books) with production. Lianda’s preliminary report on her experience shadowing the editorial process for the Viva la Novella:

"The FALS Stepping Stone Program has given me a glimpse into literary publishing that is scarcely possible in regional areas, and hard to come by even in urban centres. It is a terrific opportunity to meet someone currently working in the industry - especially someone as highly regarded as Alice Grundy. Alice shadowed me through her first structural edit of the winning manuscript and has been incredibly receptive to my queries. From why particular manuscripts might win through to the kind of narrative continuity editors both look for and work to create, I've learnt a tremendous amount in only a few meetings. Even the differences between the kinds of edits publishers might do - from structural through to proofing - has been a learning experience. I would really recommend this program to any students eager to learn about publishing and improve their own writing, especially creative works."

More information

About Percy Fritz Rowland

PERCY FRITZ ROWLAND (1870-1945), headmaster of Townsville Grammar School from 1905 to 1938, was by any measure a remarkable man. Earning his way by scholarships and bursaries, rare in his day, he took Final Honours in Classics (Literae Humaniores) at Oxford in 1893. Undecided whether to enter journalism or education, he preferred the former but fell into the latter. After pursuing his calling as a schoolmaster in Ireland, England, New Zealand, and New South Wales—where he wrote one of the earliest books on the federation of the Australian colonies—he came to Queensland as Second Master at the Rockhampton Grammar School.

Rowland took up the herculean task of building up the Townsville Grammar School after the devastation of Cyclone Leonta. With his wife he struggled through years of challenge and hardship, never losing his faith in the future of North Queensland and making time to write scintillating articles and humorous sketches. That he succeeded is manifest in the men and women who went ahead to build useful and in some cases notable careers on the foundation he laid. The traditions which he established are still vital in the school which he built.

Read more about PF Rowland in this life summary by Anne McKay. The works formed part of Anne's fulfilment of the B.A. (Hons) degree requirements in 1972, it is a slight tribute to a man who bravely carried the torch of culture in North Queensland for a generation.