Australian literary giant awarded
First published October 17, 2013
An inspiring novel about military nurses in the First World War by an Australian literary icon has been awarded the 2012 Colin Roderick Award at a special function in Townsville tonight (October 17).
The annual award – for the best book of the preceding year published in Australia in any genre and dealing with an aspect of Australian life - is hosted by James Cook University’s Foundation for Australian Literary Studies Limited (FALS Limited).
JCU’s Associate Professor Don Gallagher, one of the Award’s judges, said the winner was Thomas Keneally, for The Daughters of Mars, published by Random House Australia.
It is the second time Mr Keneally has won the award, having received the accolade in 2003 for The Tyrant’s Novel.
“The Daughters of Mars embodies many years of research in nurses’ correspondence and diaries and creates a cast of very different women working together heroically, often under appalling conditions. It is a riveting read,” Associate Professor Gallagher said.
Mr Keneally was unable to attend to receive the award, but Professor Barbara Hayes OAM accepted the award on his behalf. A video acceptance speech by Mr Keneally was played.
Thomas Keneally is a well-known Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction.
He is arguably best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982 which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. The book became Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Many of his novels are reworkings of historical material, although modern in their psychology and style.
In 1983 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and has been named as an Australian Living Treasure.
The winner of the Colin Roderick Award receives $10,000 and the H. T. Priestley Medal.
The judges, Professor Donat Gallagher, Professor Peter Pierce, Associate Professor Stephen Torre and Ms Mary Vernon, were impressed by the outstanding quality of the titles submitted and by the wide range of modes, styles, subjects and innovative approaches in the 2012 publications.
They said the winner was chosen from an exceptionally strong and varied field comprising poetry, prose fiction, memoir, historical biography and literary exploration.
The late Professor Roderick was an enthusiastic champion of Australian literature, who became JCU’s Foundation Professor of English in 1965 and went on to create FALS.
Past winners of the award have included such noted authors as Peter Carey, Peter Temple, Ruth Park and David Malouf.
Media inquiries: Caroline Kaurila, JCU Media Liaison, tel: (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175