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The Pillars

2020 - Winner

Winner

Judges' comments

The Pillars is a dazzling and provocative novel about survival and contemporary urbanity. It is a cheeky and delightful tribute to the subversive power of storytelling. With aplomb, the book blurs the boundaries between image and reality, between predator and prey, between virtue and self-interest, showing us the many emperors around us who have no clothes. As an intersectional critique of neoliberalism and aspirational ruthlessness, The Pillars takes no prisoners. From corrupt builders to racist gay men, none of the characters escape scrutiny. Yet the book is also a story of love and care between a son and his mother. The clear-eyed tenderness of this relationship is threaded through the book as Pano, the world-weary narrator, comes to terms with betrayals and epiphanies of various kinds.

In this book, everything in contemporary urban Australian culture is questioned, nothing is held sacred, neither the ridiculous nor the sublime. With effervescent sentences, The Pillars mocks the clichés that uphold the hierarchies of power and influence in our nation. Origin stories are made up to suit the occasion, ethnic solidarities are rejected in favour of class aspirations, and the nostalgia for Mary Kostakidis leaps off the page.

The achievement of this book is that it invites us to laugh at the world around us and then, revealing our complicity, shows us that we are actually laughing at ourselves. The irrepressible voice and imaginative theft of The Pillars ensures that readers will take great pleasure in this wonderful book and will think about the questions it raises for a long time to come.

Winner - NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2020