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Award for Non-Fiction
Subcategory of Festival Awards for Literature (SA)
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Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2012

winner y separately published work icon An Eye for Eternity : The Life of Manning Clark Mark McKenna , Carlton North : Melbourne University Press , 2011 Z1776387 2011 single work biography Manning Clark was a complex, demanding and brilliant man. Mark McKenna's compelling biography of this giant of Australia's cultural landscape is informed by his reading of Clark's extensive private letters, journals and diaries - many that have never been read before.

'An Eye for Eternity paints a sweeping portrait of the man who gave Australians the signature account of their own history. It tells of his friendships with Patrick White and Sidney Nolan. It details an urgent and dynamic marriage, ripped apart at times by Clark's constant need for extramarital romantic love. A son who wrote letters to his dead parents. A historian who placed narrative ahead of facts. A believer who flirted with Catholicism. A controversial public figure who marked slights and criticisms with deeply held grudges.

To understand Clark's life is to understand twentieth century Australia. And it raises fundamental questions about the craft of biography. When are letters too personal, comments too hurtful and insights too private to publish? Clark incessantly documented his life - leaving notes to the biographers he knew would pursue his story. He had a deep need to be remembered and this book means he will now be understood in an unforgettable way.' (Publisher's blurb)

Year: 2010

winner y separately published work icon Stella Miles Franklin Her Brilliant Career : The Life of Stella Miles Franklin Jill Roe , Pymble : Fourth Estate , 2008 Z1457113 2008 single work biography 'This biography is an authoritative account of the novelist, journalist, nationalist, feminist and larrikin Stella Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career and a great literary figure. This account follows her story from her beginnings in the Australian bush, through her publishing success and time spent working for the women's labour movement in Chicago, and details her time spent as a nurse in the Balkans during World War I.'

[Source: HarperCollins]

Year: 2008

winner y separately published work icon Sunrise West Jacob G. Rosenberg , Blackheath : Brandl and Schlesinger , 2007 Z1418020 2007 single work autobiography 'Sunrise West recounts his incarceration in Auschwitz, Wolfsburg and Ebensee, his liberation, followed by three and a half years as a displaced person in Italy, and the early period of his life in Australia'. (Source : Richard Freadman This Crazy Thing a Life : Australian Jewish Autobiography (2007))

Year: 2006

winner y separately published work icon Velocity Mandy Sayer , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 2005 Z1196937 2005 single work autobiography

'VELOCITY tells the moving, painful but often hilarious story of Mandy Sayer's childhood and adolescence, a life lived on the edges - of society, of poverty, of certainty, of love.

'Filled with beautifully realised descriptions of life seen through a child's eyes - a child who gradually comes to realise her adored parents are all too tragically flawed and broken. Mandy is immersed in a world of smoky jazz bars, steamy beer gardens and lino-floored dosshouses, while vainly trying to make sense of the shambolic lifestyle of her alcoholic parents.

'Conceived after her jazz musician father swallowed a block of hash at a party, a young Mandy soon comes to realise that nothing in her world stays the same for long. Her father is prone to perplexing vanishing acts: absent for months at a time, he arrives on the doorstep to greet his delighted daughter with great affection, but no explanations. Meanwhile, her mother pursues fruitless relationships with other men while her father reacts with seeming indifference. Mandy and her mother frequently move house so her mother can take on housekeeping jobs, leaving Mandy struggling to make lasting friendships and longing for stability. She feels particularly vulnerable when her mother becomes involved with Hakkin, a deeply aggressive man whose violent and erratic outbursts are not reserved only for Mandy's mother.

'But there are many moments in life which bring Mandy joy and offer refuge: times when she feels assured of the love and approval of her parents: when she immerses herself in poetry, acting and music, and surrounds herself with those who share her passions.

'Velocity packs the emotional impact of 'Angela's Ashes' with the surreal humour and razor-sharp observations of 'Running with scissors'. Sayer brings into focus those moments when the child's world and the adult world intersect, when illusions are shattered and understanding begins. Unflinchingly honest, startlingly brave and written with a clear-eyed, lyrical grace, 'Velocity' is an ultimately uplifting story of struggle and faith against frightening odds. ' (Publication summary)

Year: 2004

winner y separately published work icon Unearthed : The Aboriginal Tasmanians of Kangaroo Island Rebe Taylor , Kent Town : Wakefield Press , 2002 Z1028428 2002 single work biography Researches the role of Tasmanian Aboriginal women and their descendants in the history of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The work includes the history of the Thomas, Barrett, Waller, Seymour, Simpson and Golder families.