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Louis Nowra Louis Nowra i(A34108 works by) (birth name: Louis Doyle)
Born: Established: 1950 Melbourne, Victoria, ;
Gender: Male
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Louis Nowra was born in Melbourne and studied at La Trobe University without taking a degree. Nowra worked at several jobs and lived an itinerant lifestyle until the mid-1970s when his plays began to attract attention. Nowra is best known for the many plays that he has written since that time, but he has also written film scripts (including adaptations of his own work), plays for radio and television, novels and autobiography. Nowra has held administrative positions in several theatre companies, directed a number of productions and translated several plays for the Australian stage. In collaboration with his first wife, Sarah de Jong, he has written the music for his plays and other productions. Nowra's work has won a number of awards and Nowra has been a writer-in-residence and lecturer at The University of Queensland.

Nowra's plays exhibit his interest in black comedy and gothic themes that explore fundamental issues in human individuality. Several of his plays can be seen as explorations of the mind and its relationship with language, but Nowra has also extended that to explore the effects of imperialism and oppression. In the early 1990s several of his plays employed autobiographical elements that have been further explored in his autobiography, The Twelfth of Never (2000). While many of his plays are set outside Australia, the themes he explores can be easily applied to the Australian condition. This is demonstrated in his widely admired treatment of Aboriginal issues in plays like Radiance and Crow, which extend many of the themes of his earlier plays.

Nowra also wrote the non-fiction work The Cheated (1979), consisting of a series of news items about bizarre incidents, and contributed to Edge of the Earth : Stories and Images from the Antipodes (1990) which traces the development of New Zealand film-maker Vincent Ward. In 2007, Pluto Press published his Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal Men's Violence Against Women and Children as part of the Australia NOW series. The work was controversial and prompted a response from authors and lawyers Larissa Behrendt and Nicole Watson ('A Response to Louis Nowra', Alternative Law Journal 33.1 (March 2008): 45-47).

Nowra has been involved in script-writing since the 1980s, when he wrote television movies including Displaced Persons, Hunger, and The Lizard King. Among those films that are better known internationally are Map of the Human Heart (for which he was script-writer) and K-19 : The Widowmaker (for which he contrinbuted the story). He has also adapted his own plays to the screen, including Radiance and Cosi.

While better known as a playwright, Nowra has also published novels intermittently since the 1970s, beginning with The Misery of Beauty : The Loves of Frogman. His most recent novels have been young-adult works: wilderness novel Into That Forest and war story Prince of Afghanistan.

Among Nowra's many awards are the Patrick White Award (2013) and the Canada-Australia Literary Award (1993), as well as AWGIE Awards for fiction and documentary, a Logie Award, AFI Awards for both documentary and adapted screenplay, a Green Room Award, and the Prix Italia Drama Award. He has been shortlisted for many more.

Louis Nowra was awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University on 26 March 1996.

Most Referenced Works


  • Veronica Kelly's work The Theatre of Louis Nowra examines, in part (especially pp. 101-109, 120-122, 136-138 and 139-140), Nowra's characteristic survivor 'Creatures' and discusses Nowra's use of the Frankenstein myth in these historically deformed and reformed characters.
  • A radio play attributed to Nowra, 'Moon of the Exploding Trees' is mentioned in the author's biography in The Language of the Gods (piii of program inserted in centre of book), and on the web site of Radio National's 'Airplay', which states that it was performed on CBC Radio, Canada in 1995. John Hillel, in 'The Radio Drama of Louis Nowra' (in Australasian Drama Studies, Number 30, April 1997), states that the work was never broadcast because of concerns about its content. The script for this work, however, has not been traced beyond these references.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Prince of Afghanistan Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2015 8348665 2015 single work novel young adult

'Black parachutes fall from the sky: young soldiers - and a dog - on a rescue mission in a remote part of Afghanistan...But the mission ends in chaos, and Mark and Prince embark on a perilous journey through enemy territory. They depend on each other to survive...A dramatic and powerful story of war and the bond between a young soldier and a dog, from the acclaimed author of Into That Forest...' (Publication summary)

2016 shortlisted Indie Awards Young Adult
y separately published work icon Kings Cross : A Biography Sydney : NewSouth Publishing , 2013 7916716 2013 single work biography

'Louis Nowra burrows beneath the sensationalist Underbelly ‘sex and sin’ narrative, revealing stories and a cast of characters – some household names others little-known - that not even a writer could conjure up.

'Kings Cross is a no-holds barred place, where backpackers, prostitutes, strippers, chefs, mad men, poets, beggars, booksellers, doctors, gangsters, sailors, musicians, drug traffickers, eccentrics, judges and artists live side by side. Part flaneur, part historian and part eyewitness, Louis Nowra is the best possible guide to a place both real, and a state of mind.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2014 winner 'The Nib': CAL Waverley Library Award for Literature The Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize
2014 shortlisted 'The Nib': CAL Waverley Library Award for Literature
y separately published work icon Into That Forest Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2012 Z1881708 2012 single work novel young adult (taught in 2 units) 'Me name be Hannah O'Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology - me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again. But here's me story and I be glad to tell it before I hop the twig. So begins this extraordinary novel, which will transport you to Australia's wild frontier and stay in your mind long after you've finished reading.' (Publisher's blurb)
2015 longlisted Tasmania Book Prizes Tasmania Book Prize
2014 shortlisted Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Young Adult Fiction
2012 shortlisted Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction Young Adult Division Best Novel
2013 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature
Last amended 19 Dec 2017 16:07:49
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