2022 - Winner
In Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, Anita Heiss leads her readers to empathise with the human condition in a landscape brutalised by draconian ways and disaster. She brings human dimension to nineteenth-century history through the romantic tenderness between Wagadhaany and Yindyamarra. Caring for each other and being as one with Country form the ethical bedrock of this novel, and Heiss’ own love for her Wiradyuri people and Country shines through.
The language and tone of Bila is not complex, but the author weaves the narration and dialogue together so that worlds of bilingual communication perfectly illustrate the complexity of the challenges that members of the Wiradyuri Nation overcome.
So many nations and languages have disappeared. Heiss has carefully maintained an already-fragile hourglass in telling this story. Could we easily measure ourselves today in such circumstances?