Awards and Recipients

The Nita B Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers recognise the works of women writers who have published fiction or non-fiction classified as 'life writing'. This includes novels, autobiographies, biographies, literature and any writing with a strong personal element.

The object of the Awards is to encourage Australian women writers to improve and advance Australian literature for the benefit of the community.

Two awards are made each year, the Kibble Literary Award and the Dobbie Literary Award, which are known by writers, publishers and the wider literary community as an exciting feature on the annual calendar of women's writing.  

> 2016 Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers Winners - Media Release

> 2016 Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers Longlist - Media Release


View the full list of shortlisted authors and prize winners since the first Kibble Literary Awards in 1994.

2016 Kibble Literary Award Winner and Shortlist

Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the author’s own actions and motivations. The essays offer perspectives on the eating disorder at different stages in Wright’s life, at university, where she finds herself in a radically different social world to the one she grew up in, in Sri Lanka as a fledgling journalist, in Germany as a young writer, in her hospital treatments back in Sydney. They combine research, travel writing, memoir, and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, and detailed and humorous views of hunger-induced situations of the kind that are so compelling in Wright’s poetry. 

Fiona Wright’s poetry book Knuckled (Giramondo 2011) won the Dame Mary Gilmore Award for a first collection. Her poems and essays have been published in the Australian, Meanjin, Island, Overland, The Lifted Brow, Seizure and HEAT. 

With her debut volume of poetry Fiona Wright, who was born in 1983, joins a generation of exceptionally talented young Australian women poets…highly literate and exacting in their use of language, while being diverse in their voices and subject matter. The distinguishing characteristic of Wright’s poetry is a social sense, of families and people in a particular place and time.

SYNOPSIS:

These are essays of startling intelligence and honesty, brilliant meditations on hunger in all its forms and the complex nature of creative desire. 

 – CERIDWEN DOVEY 

Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in university, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years.



Elizabeth Harrower

A Few Days in the Country

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Elizabeth Harrower is the author of the novels Down in the City, The Long Prospect, The Catherine Wheel and The Watch Tower—all of which have been republished as Text Classics—and In Certain Circles, which was published in 2014 and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2015. Elizabeth lives in Sydney.

SYNOPSIS:

Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A Few Days in the Country brings together for the first time her stories published in Australian journals in the 1960s and 1970s, along with those from her archives—including ‘Alice’, published for the first time in 2015 in the New Yorker. Essential reading for Harrower fans, these finely turned pieces show a broader range than the novels, ranging from caustic satires to gentler explorations of friendship. 


Drusilla Modjeska

Second Half First

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Drusilla Modjeska is one of Australia's most acclaimed writers. She was born in England but lived in Papua before arriving in Australia in 1971. Her books include Exiles at Home; the NSW Premier's Award-winning Poppy; Sisters, which she co-edited; the Nita B. Kibble, NSW Premier's Award and Australian Bookseller's Book of the Year Award-winner The Orchard; Timepieces; and Secrets with Robert Dessaix and Amanda Lohrey. She is also the author of the bestselling Stravinsky's Lunch and her first novel, The Mountain, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin Award, the Western Australia Premier's Award and the Barbara Jefferis Award.

SYNOPSIS:

A stunning new memoir from one of Australia's most highly acclaimed writers. 

Beginning with the disastrous events of the night before her fortieth birthday, in Second Half First Drusilla Modjeska looks back on the experiences of the past thirty years that have shaped her writing, her reading and the way she has lived. 

From a childhood in England, and her parents’ difficult marriage, to her time as a young newlywed living with her husband in Papua New Guinea; arriving as a single woman in Sydney in the 1970s and building close friendships with writers such as Helen Garner, with whom she lived in the bookish ‘house on the corner’, and the lovers who would – sometimes briefly – derail her, to returning to Papua thirty years later to found a literacy program, this new book by Drusilla Modjeska is an intensely personal and moving account of an examined life. 

In asking the candid questions that so many of us face – about love and independence, the death of a partner, growing older, the bonds of friendship and family – Drusilla Modjeska reassesses parts of her life, her work, the importance to her of writers such as Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, among many others. The result is a memoir that is at once intellectually provocative and deeply honest; the book that readers of Poppy, The Orchard and Stravinsky’s Lunch have been waiting for.


Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the author’s own actions and motivations. The essays offer perspectives on the eating disorder at different stages in Wright’s life, at university, where she finds herself in a radically different social world to the one she grew up in, in Sri Lanka as a fledgling journalist, in Germany as a young writer, in her hospital treatments back in Sydney. They combine research, travel writing, memoir, and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, and detailed and humorous views of hunger-induced situations of the kind that are so compelling in Wright’s poetry. 

Fiona Wright’s poetry book Knuckled (Giramondo 2011) won the Dame Mary Gilmore Award for a first collection. Her poems and essays have been published in the Australian, Meanjin, Island, Overland, The Lifted Brow, Seizure and HEAT. 

With her debut volume of poetry Fiona Wright, who was born in 1983, joins a generation of exceptionally talented young Australian women poets…highly literate and exacting in their use of language, while being diverse in their voices and subject matter. The distinguishing characteristic of Wright’s poetry is a social sense, of families and people in a particular place and time.

SYNOPSIS:

These are essays of startling intelligence and honesty, brilliant meditations on hunger in all its forms and the complex nature of creative desire. 

 – CERIDWEN DOVEY 

Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in university, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years.



2016 Dobbie Literary Award Winner and Shortlist

Lucy Treloar

Salt Creek 

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in England, Sweden and Melbourne. A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy is a writer and editor, and has plied her trades both in Australia and in Cambodia, where she lived for a number of years. Her short fiction has appeared in Sleepers, Overland, Seizure and Best Australian Stories 2013, and her non-fiction in a range of print media including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Womankind, G Magazine, The West, Visit Cambodia, RAM and Gardening Australia. Her first novel, Salt Creek, was published by Picador in 2015. Lucy lives in inner Melbourne with her husband, four children and two whippets.

SYNOPSIS:

Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch.

Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Over the years that pass, an Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.

Stanton's attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people's homes and livelihoods, and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri's subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?


Shirley Barrett 

Rush Oh! 

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Shirley Barrett is best known for her work as a screenwriter and director. Shirley's first film, Love Serenade won the Camera D'Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes Film Festival in 1996. The script for her film South Solitary won the Queensland Premier's Prize (script) 2010, the West Australian Premier's Literary Prize (script) 2010, and the West Australian Premier's Prize 2010. Rush Oh! is Shirley's first novel. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

SYNOPSIS:

When Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure. It's a season marked not only by the sparsity of whales and the vagaries of weather, but also by the arrival of John Beck, an itinerant whale man with a murky past, on whom Mary promptly develops an all-consuming crush. But hers is not the only romance to blossom amidst the blubber... Swinging from Mary's hopes and disappointments, both domestic and romantic, to the challenges that beset their tiny whaling operation, Rush Oh! is a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history, when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance with a pod of frisky Killer whales - and in particular, a Killer whale named Tom.


Magda Szubanski 

Reckoning 

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Magda Szubanski is one of Australia’s best known and most loved performers. She began her career in university revues, then appeared in a number of sketch comedy shows before creating the iconic character of Sharon Strzelecki in ABC-TV’s Kath and Kim. She has also acted in films (Babe, Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, The Golden Compass) and stage shows. Reckoning is her first book.

SYNOPSIS:

Heartbreaking, joyous, traumatic, intimate and revelatory, Reckoning is the book where Magda Szubanski, one of Australia’s most beloved performers, tells her story. 

In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father’s espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family. With courage and compassion she addresses her own frailties and fears, and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on. 

Honest, poignant, utterly captivating, Reckoning announces the arrival of a fearless writer and natural storyteller. It will touch the lives of its readers.



Lucy Treloar

Salt Creek 

Kibble

BIOGRAPHY:

Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in England, Sweden and Melbourne. A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy is a writer and editor, and has plied her trades both in Australia and in Cambodia, where she lived for a number of years. Her short fiction has appeared in Sleepers, Overland, Seizure and Best Australian Stories 2013, and her non-fiction in a range of print media including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Womankind, G Magazine, The West, Visit Cambodia, RAM and Gardening Australia. Her first novel, Salt Creek, was published by Picador in 2015. Lucy lives in inner Melbourne with her husband, four children and two whippets.

SYNOPSIS:

Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch.

Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Over the years that pass, an Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.

Stanton's attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people's homes and livelihoods, and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri's subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?


Awards

The Kibble Literary Award, currently valued at $30,000, recognises the work of an established Australian woman writer.
The Dobbie Literary Award, currently valued at $5,000, recognises a first published work from an Australian woman writer.

The 2016 Kibble Awards longlist, shortlist and winners are decided by an expert judging panel consisting of:

  • Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby AM held the Chair of Australian Literature at Sydney University from 1990 to 2007. She currently serves as the Editor of Humanities Australia, the journal of the Australia Academy of the Humanities.
  • Dr Rachel Franks is a Coordinator, Education & Scholarship, State Library of New South Wales and a Conjoint Fellow, University of Newcastle, Australia.
  • Dr Rosie Scott is an internationally published award-winning novelist, who has had a long and successful literary career including nine critically-acclaimed books and three anthologies which she co-edited. She has also worked for many years in fields centring around human rights.

> Find out how to apply

2016 Kibble Literary Award for an established author

Debra Adelaide The Women’s Pages (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Tegan Bennett Daylight - Six Bedrooms (Random House Australia)

Elizabeth Harrower - A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories (The Text Publishing Company)

Gail Jones - A Guide to Berlin (Random House Australia)

Drusilla Modjeska - Second Half First (Random House Australia)

Charlotte Wood - The Natural Way of Things (Allen & Unwin)

Fiona Wright - Small Acts of Disappearance (Giramondo Publishing)

2016 Dobbie Literary Award for a first time published author

Shirley Barrett - Rush Oh! (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Anna Broinowski - The Director is the Commander (Penguin)

Sonja Dechian - An Astronaut’s Life (The Text Publishing Company)

Amanda Hickie - An Ordinary Epidemic (MidnightSun Publishing)

Magda Szubanski - Reckoning: A Memoir (The Text Publishing Company)

Lucy Treloar - Salt Creek (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Lesley and Tammy Williams - Not Just Black and White (University of Queensland Press)

Joan London - The Golden Age (Vintage Australia)

Synopsis

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia's most loved novelists.

He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At the Golden Age Children's Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.

The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.

Written in Joan London's customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection. It is a rare and precious gem of a book from one of Australia's finest novelists.

Biography

Joan London is the author of two story collections: Sister Ships, which won the AgeBook of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier's Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel,Gilgamesh (2001), won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Joan London's books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age(2014) is her third novel.

Sophie Cunningham - Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy (Text Publishing)

Synopsis

When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia's season of goodwill.

For the fortieth anniversary of the nation's most iconic natural disaster, Sophie Cunningham has gone back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation, and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist's eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more and more destructive extreme weather with every year that passes.

Compulsively readable and undeniably moving, Warning is the essential non-fiction book of 2014.

Biography

Sophie Cunningham is the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008) and the non-fiction Melbourne (UNSW Press, 2011). She is a former editor ofMeanjin and was until recently the chair of the Australia Council's Literature Board.

Helen Garner - This House of Grief (Text Publishing)

Synopsis

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.

Biography

Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. She taught in Victorian secondary schools until 1972, when she was dismissed for answering her students' questions about sex, and had to start writing journalism for a living.

Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case.

In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier's Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.

Ellen van Neerven - Heat and Light (University of Queensland Press)

Synopsis

In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.

Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In 'Heat', we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In 'Water', a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In 'Light', familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.

Biography

Born in Brisbane in 1990 to Aboriginal and Dutch parents, Ellen van Neerven is a Yugambeh woman with traditional ties to the country between the Logan and Tweed rivers. Her debut book Heat and Light won the David Unaipon Award in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the 2015 Stella Prize. Ellen's short fiction, poetry and memoir have been published in numerous publications, including McSweeney's, Voiceworks and Mascara Literary Review. She lives in Brisbane.

Emily Bitto - The Strays (Affirm Press)

Synopsis

On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work at their family home. Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.

As the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect the same themes as their art: Faustian bargains and spectacular falls from grace. Yet it's not Evan, but his own daughters, who pay the price for his radicalism.

The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties from an exciting new talent.

Biography

Emily Bitto has a Masters in Literary Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, where she is also a sessional teacher and supervisor in the creative writing program. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Christine Piper - Christine Piper After Darkness (Allen & Unwin)

Synopsis

The winner of The Australian/Vogel's Literary Award 2014

'A brave, profound meditation on identity, trauma, loss and courage ... A novel that demands its place alongside Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Mark Dapin's Spirit House.' - Stephen Romei, literary editor, The Australian/Vogel's judge.

It is early 1942 and Australia is in the midst of war. While working at a Japanese hospital in the pearling port of Broome, Dr Ibaraki is arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Loveday internment camp in a remote corner of South Australia. There, he learns to live among a group of men who are divided by culture and allegiance. As tensions at the isolated camp escalate, the doctor's long-held beliefs are thrown into question and he is forced to confront his dark past: the promise he made in Japan and its devastating consequences.

Biography

Christine Piper's short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found In Trees and Other Stories. She was the 2013 Alice Hayes writing fellow at Ragdale in the United States. She has studied creative writing at Macquarie University, the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Technology, Sydney, where she wrote a version of this novel as part of her doctoral degree. She has also worked as a magazine editor and writer for more than a decade. Both in South Korea in 1979 to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, she moved to Australia when she was one. She has previously taught English and studied Japanese in Japan, and currently lives in New York with her husband. Christine is also the 2014 recipient of the ABR Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. After Darkness, her first novel, is the winner of The Australian/Vogel's Literary Prize 2014.