AustLit logo
Non-Fiction (2000-2016)
Subcategory of Western Australian Premier's Book Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

History

Created in 2000 from a blend of the previous categories 'Special Award' and 'Historical and Critical Studies'. The latter was also later revived in modified form as the Western Australian History Award.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon This House of Grief Helen Garner , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2014 7674634 2014 single work non-fiction (taught in 3 units)

'Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain.

'On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict.

'In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice.

'This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia’s most admired writers.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2014

winner y separately published work icon Boy, Lost : A Family Memoir Kristina Olsson , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2013 Z1923431 2013 single work biography (taught in 2 units)

'Kristina Olsson's mother lost her infant son, Peter, when he was snatched from her arms as she boarded a train in the hot summer of 1950. She was young and frightened, trying to escape a brutal marriage, but despite the violence and cruelty she'd endured, she was not prepared for this final blow, this breathtaking punishment. Yvonne would not see her son again for nearly 40 years.

'Kristina was the first child of her mother's subsequent, much gentler marriage and, like her siblings, grew up unaware of the reasons behind her mother's sorrow, though Peter's absence resounded through the family, marking each one. Yvonne dreamt of her son by day and by night, while Peter grew up a thousand miles and a lifetime away, dreaming of his missing mother.

'Boy, Lost tells how their lives proceeded from that shattering moment, the grief and shame that stalked them, what they lost and what they salvaged. But it is also the story of a family, the cascade of grief and guilt through generations, and the endurance of memory and faith.' (Publisher's blurb)

Year: 2012

winner y separately published work icon Exile : The Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz Roger Averill , Yarraville : Transit Lounge , 2012 Z1881236 2012 single work biography

'Like the best true life adventures, the story of Werner Pelz is stranger than fiction. Forced to flee Nazi Germany for being Jewish, he was then interned in England for being German. Shipped to Australia on the notorious HMT Dunera, he spent two years in internment camps in Hay and Tatura. After returning to Britain, his life evolved into a spiritual quest that led him to become an Anglican vicar, to author popular books (including God Is No More), to frequently appear on the BBC, and to become a Guardian columnist. Decades after his wartime Australian exile, he returned to teach Sociology at La Trobe University, continuing his search for a new way of thinking, a new mythology.

'In the mid-1980s, a young university student, Roger Averill, was taught by this quietly charismatic man. The two developed an unlikely friendship, one that was to last until Werner's death, after which Roger's research unexpectedly revealed a deeper dimension —a personal life filled with familial drama, pain and poignancy.

'Both memoir and biography, Exile: The Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz is a compelling account of a remarkable man's life-long search for a truth unbound by orthodoxy. It is also a lyrical evocation of an abiding friendship in which a teacher and a student share the lessons of love and loss, discovering that while the questions they ask have no answers, the act of asking them creates a meaning of its own.' (From the publisher's website.)

Year: 2011

winner y separately published work icon Her Father's Daughter Alice Pung , Collingwood : Black Inc. , 2011 Z1799964 2011 single work autobiography 'At twenty-something, Alice is eager for the milestones of adulthood: leaving home, choosing a career, finding friendship and love on her own terms. But with each step she takes she feels the sharp tug of invisible threads: the love and worry of her parents, who want more than anything to keep her from harm. Her father fears for her safety to an extraordinary degree - but why?

'As she digs further into her father's story, Alice embarks on a journey of painful discovery: of memories lost and found, of her own fears for the future, of history and how it echoes down the years. Set in Melbourne, China and Cambodia, Her Father's Daughter captures a father-daughter relationship in a moving and astonishingly powerful way.' (From the publisher's website.)

Year: 2010

winner y separately published work icon A Three-Cornered Life : The Historian W. K. Hancock Jim Davidson , Sydney : University of New South Wales Press , 2010 Z1704878 2010 single work biography 'While W.K. Hancock may no longer be described as 'Australia's most distinguished historian', he has some enduring claims to our attention. No other Australian historian - and few elsewhere - can match his 'span', to use one of his watchwords. Hancock was a major historian in four or five fields, who himself made history by going on a mission to Uganda for the British government in 1954 to mediate the future of Buganda after its ruler had been exiled. He was also, from a room in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, the editor of a vast historical project: the writing of a series of accounts of British mobilisation on the home front during the Second World War. In addition, Hancock was a founder of the Australian National University, while his Australia (1930) remains one of the classic accounts of this country' (Publishers website).

Works About this Award

Hooper Takes Prize 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 2 September 2010; (p. 4)
X