Position Doubtful: mapping landscapes and memories

2017 - Shortlisted


Judges comments

Taking us far from the physical, social and intellectual comforts of urban Australia, Kim Mahood continues the journey she started in Craft for a Dry Lake. This time she maps both landscape and memory in a book that is ambitious, innovative and challenging. For this artist and writer, the Tanami desert country was where she grew up, a white woman in a landscape that white men had tried and failed to understand; a white woman among Indigenous people. Mahood’s intense interest in finding ways to create art that responds to this unique place, its history and its people, resulted in her personal development as collaborator, friend and visionary. Careful to look without prejudice, ready to laugh at herself and to share in the sometimes desperate lives of others, Mahood documents her experience in a voice both dispassionate and poetic. Position Doubtful will take its place in Australian writing as, at last, a portrait that transcends racial and historical divides.

About the author

Kim Mahood is a writer and artist based in Wamboin, near Canberra, whose 2000 memoir, Craft for a Dry Lake, won the NSW Premier’s Award for non-fiction and the Age Book of the Year for non-fiction. Her artwork is held in state, territory, and regional collections, and her essays have appeared in Griffith ReviewMeanjin, and The Best Australian Essays. In 2014, she was awarded the H C Coombs Fellowship. Position Doubtful was shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Award for non-fiction and won the 2017 Australian Book Industry Award for the Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year.