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UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing Past Winners

Year Winner Judges' comments

The Last Thread by Michael Sala

The Last Thread follows the growth of a boy to manhood, as he is overshadowed by a handsomer, more confident elder brother, and dogged by memories of an unstable home environment (a divorce, an absent father, a mother torn in her loyalties between her children and the new man in her life). He shuttles back and forth between the Netherlands and Australia, trying to make sense of the hand that fate has dealt him.

Through the eyes of the young Michaelis, we see the world in keen, arresting images; his mother’s struggles to give meaning to her life in a new country are rendered with quiet sympathy. This is a sensitive and accomplished first novel with a strong autobiographical colouring.

It is a testament to Sala’s skill as a writer that the undercurrent of menace that lurks within this story is never allowed to overwhelm the work.  Through careful use of understatement and inference, Sala gives voice to events and fears the child narrator, Michaelis, is hesitant to detail, and in doing so, creates a powerful work of deceptive simplicity.  The Last Thread is a moving examination of the fragmentation of memory and the legacy of a childhood marked by instability and dislocation.


The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson

In The Roving Party, Rohan Wilson reimagines a moment in Tasmanian history. John Batman, bounty hunter, founder of Melbourne, hires a group of men to form a 'roving party' to move across the state, massacring the local people in order to take the land. Travelling across the island, the roving party takes few prisoners and kills freely, each focused on their personal prize. And none more so than Black Bill, driven by his own fierce vendetta.

With extraordinary clarity and restraint, Wilson creates a new historical world, both mesmerising and horrifying. Cruelty builds upon dark motivation in a landscape which is both compelling and forbidding. Wilson's writing is elegant and lyrical, yet unflinching in its portrayal of horrific events. Meticulously researched, The Roving Party is a deeply moving and compelling meditation on the darkest human motivations.

The Roving Party explores with great sensitivity a vicious and disturbing episode in Australian history, sensitively fictionalising the historical record and presenting a compelling vision of humanity. Each of these masterfully drawn characters is complex, driven, deeply flawed and deeply human. The Roving Party is a stunning debut from an exceptional new writer.