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This year’s selection was overall of a high quality – the best in the three years I have been judging. There was a wide range of work and all categories – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, screenplays and scripts – were represented, with non-fiction entries the most numerous. The selection featured works by Australians of Indigenous, Greek, Eastern European, Arabic, Asian, South Asian, Jamaican and, for the first time, African heritage. As is usually the case with the Multicultural Prize, the issue of belonging and what it means to be Australian – or “other” – was at the heart of many of the entries.
The judging panel
Jane McCredie is an award-winning journalist, writer and reviewer who has been widely published in Australia and internationally. A former book publisher, she is the CEO of Writing NSW and the founder and director of the Quantum Words Festival of writing about science. She is the author of Making Girls and Boys: Inside the science of sex and was coeditor of the 2013 anthology of The Best Australian Science Writing. Jane is a graduate of the Australia Council’s arts leaders program and has previously chaired both the Christina Stead and Douglas Stewart panels of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
Fiona Katauskas is a cartoonist, illustrator, TV producer and author. Her cartoons have appeared in a wide range of books, newspapers, websites, magazines, anthologies and exhibitions. Fiona is the author of the bestselling The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made (HarperCollins/ABC Books 2015) which was shortlisted for a Children’s Book Council of Australia award in 2016. If she had a dollar for every time someone asked if her surname was Greek, she’d be able to afford waterfront property in Sydney. (For the record, it's Lithuanian.)
Lachlan Brown is a senior lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. He is the author of Limited Cities (Giramondo, 2012) and Lunar Inheritance (Giramondo, 2017). Lachlan's poetry has been published in various journals including Antipodes, Cordite, and Rabbit. He has previously been involved in judging the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize and the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize. Lachlan currently is the vice-president of Booranga Writers Centre in Wagga Wagga and the NSW representative for the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL).
Dr Roanna Gonsalves is the author of The Permanent Resident (UWAP), published in South Asia as Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney (Speaking Tiger). The book won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Multicultural Prize 2018, and was longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award 2018. It is on several lists of must-read books, and on the syllabi of university courses. Her work has been compared to the work of Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri. Roanna is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award, is co-founder co-editor of Southern Crossings. She teaches at NYU, Sydney and serves on the Board of Writing NSW.
About the award
The Multicultural NSW Award ($20,000) is offered for
- a book of fiction or non-fiction, memoir or history
- a play, musical drama or comedy, theatrical monologue or other theatrical performance,
- a book of collected poems or a single poem of substantial length published in book form,
- the screenplay of a feature or documentary film or episode of a television program (drama, comedy or documentary), or
- the script of a radio play or documentary
which is deemed by the judges to have made a significant contribution to Australian literature, poetry, theatre, film, radio or television and which also considers:
- any aspect of the Australian migration experience; and/or
- aspects of cultural diversity and multiculturalism in Australian society.
The Multicultural NSW Award may be awarded to either:
- a book or collection first published between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018;
- a play or music drama which has had a premiere season given by an amateur or professional theatre company before a general audience between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018; or
- the original writer’s script for a feature or documentary or episode of a television program (drama, comedy or documentary), accompanied by a DVD of the feature, documentary or episode.
Writers who have previously won this award are not eligible to win it in the subsequent two years but shortlisted writers are permitted to re-enter new works.
Books, plays, music dramas and scripts may be nominated specifically for this award by their authors, publishers, agents or producers.