Fantasy and banditry to the fore in writers’ awards

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Andrew Einspruch named the 2020 Fiction Award winner for “The Light Bearer”.

A HUMOROUS fantasy novel about a “slightly OCD princess” and a Javanese journey with a bunch of “bandit saints” are among the winners in the 2020 ACT Writers Awards, it was announced virtually this week.

Andrew Einspruch’s novel, “The Light Bearer”, which was named the 2020 Fiction Award winner, was praised by the judges as an “imaginative and inspired tale, grounded in the realities of the human experience”.

Einspruch is the author of the humorous fantasy series “The Western Lands and All That Really Matters”. He is also the published author of more than 120 children’s books, sold around the world, covering everything from basketball to DNA, biographies to histories to mysteries, outback heroes and even Christmas Island red crabs.

Non fiction winner George Quinn awarded for “Bandit Saints of Java”.

A rip-roaring account of Javanese culture and religion by revered Canberra academic George Quinn, “Bandit Saints of Java” was the winner in the non-fiction award section. Of his book, the judges said: “Through first-person reportage, evocative description, and sometimes wry observation, Quinn weaves a colourful story about pilgrimage sites and saints in Java.”

First place in the June Shenfield National Poetry Awards went to Elanna Herbert for “Part of its trunk”.

In accepting the award, Herbert said: “Winning the June Shenfield Award brings validation and acknowledgement of my efforts as an emerging poet.

“It encourages me to keep up the work of being a poet, which is to consider and reflect on the human experience of the world, to share it with others. In this regard, in 2020, it is poignant to win with a poem about the bushfires many of us experienced last summer.”

Among the family awards given in memory of distinguished Canberra writers and administered by the ACT Writers’ Centre, was the $5000 Anne Edgeworth Emerging Writer’s Fellowship, provided to an emerging writer in the Canberra Region, which was jointly won this year by Natalie Cooke and Emilie Morscheck, while the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award went to Sophie Clews for her story, “Bygone”.

Children’s Book winner, Tania McCartney

“Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures” by Tania McCartney won the children’s book category, was praised by the judges as a “beautifully crafted non-fiction picture book [which] explores animal conservation and the sheer magnitude of Australia’s magnificent animal species in a way that is respectful and reflective of the books target audience.”

The full list of ACT Writers Award Winners include:

  • The Anne Edgeworth Emerging Writer’s Fellowship Award went to Natalie Cooke and Emilie Morscheck.
  • First place for the June Shenfield National Poetry Awards went to Elanna Herbert for “Part of its trunk”, second to ACT resident Carmel Summers “Paper Daisies”, and third place to Victoria’s Carla de Goede for “The Cleaning Woman”.
  • The award winner of the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award went to Sophie Clews for “Bygone”, with highly commended going to Mick Donaldson for “The Navigators”, Ian Hart for “Vertical”, and Deborah Huff-Horwood for “The Suitcase”.
  • The Fiction Award winner went to Andrew Einspruch for his novel “The Light Bearer”, with highly commended going to Lisa Cassidy for “A Tale of Stars and Shadow”, Amy Laurens for “How Not To Acquire A Castle”, and Kaaron Warren for “Into Bones like Oil”.
  • The Non Fiction Award winner went to George Quinn for “Bandit Saints of Java”, with high commendations for Rob Donnelly’s “Out of Order” and Toni Hassan’s “Families in the Digital Age”.
  • The Children’s Book Awards winner was Tania McCartney’s “Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures”, with highly commended going to Tracey Hawkins and Anil Tortop for “Leaping Lola”.
  • The Poetry Award winner was Sandra Renew for “Acting Like a Girl”, with highly commended to Cham Zhi Yi for “blur by the” and Suzanne Edgar for “Catching the Light”.

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