Heat and Light
2016 - Joint winner
The judges were very impressed with this remarkable exercise in fiction. Though the three sections of her narrative are apparently discontinuous, they add up to a very satisfying and exciting whole, involving the diverse experience of a family named the Kresingers. It is as if Ellen van Neerven has held up three different lenses to the experiences of an Aboriginal family. The judges felt an urge to celebrate such aplomb and apparent ease in a writer who was born only a quarter of a century ago — to Dutch and Aboriginal parents.
Van Neerven’s assurance, her unique voice, and her confidence as a narrator promise great things in what we hope will be a long career. Her narrative idiom and dialogue are subtle yet seem unstudied and straightforward. Young womanhood and women in general are well-realised. This is a work of fiction by a born novelist.