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Award for Non-Fiction
Subcategory of Festival Awards for Literature (SA)
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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)
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]
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))
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)

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.
2002 winner y separately published work icon Leviathan : The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney John Birmingham , Milsons Point : Random House , 1999 Z345434 1999 single work non-fiction

'An electrifying, epic history of the city of Sydney as you have never seen her before.'To peer deeply into this ghost city, the one lying beneath the surface, is to understand that Sydney has a soul and that it is a very dark place indeed.' Beneath the shining harbour, amid the towers of global greed and deep inside the bad-drugs madness of the suburban wastelands, lies Sydney's shadow history. Terrifying tsunamis, corpse-robbing morgue staff, killer cops, neo-Nazis, power junkies and bumbling SWOS teams electrify this epic tale of a city with a cold vacuum for a moral core. Birmingham drills beneath the cover story of a successful multicultural metropolis and melts the boundaries between past and present to reveal a ghost city beneath the surface of concrete and glass. In Birmingham's alternative history of Sydney, the yawning chasm between the megarich and the lumpen masses is as evident in the insane wealth of the new elites as it was in the head-spinning rapacity of the NSW Rum Corps. This is a city shattered by the nexus between government, big money and the underworld, where the glittering prizes go to the strong, not the just. Combining intensive research with the pace of a techno-thriller, John Birmingham creates a rich portrait of a city too dazzled by its own gorgeous reflection to care much for what lies at its dark, corrupted heart. Illuminated by wild flashes of black humour, violent, ghoulish and utterly compelling, Leviathan is history for the Tarantino generation.' (Publication summary)

2000 winner y separately published work icon Throwim Way Leg : An Adventure Tim Flannery , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 1998 Z902056 1998 single work autobiography travel

'Throwim Way Leg is unputdownable, a book of wonder and excitement, of struggle and sadness, a love letter to Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya.

'This book brims with marvellous stories. Tim Flannery meets skilled hunters and befriends a shaman. He climbs mountains never before scaled by Europeans, discovers new species and stumbles across the giant bones of extinct marsupials.

'And he writes movingly about the fate of indigenous people when their intricate cultures collide with mining companies and the high-tech world of the late twentieth century.

'‘In New Guinea Pidgin,’ Tim Flannery explains, ‘throwim way leg means to go on a journey. It describes the action of thrusting out your leg to take the first step of what can be a long march…’

'With these words he invites us to share in his breathtaking adventures in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya. You will never think about the bird-shaped island to our north in the same way again.'

1998 winner David Day for Claiming a Continent: A History of Australia
1994 winner y separately published work icon Sort of a Place Like Home : Remembering the Moore River Native Settlement Susan Maushart , South Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 1993 Z920050 1993 single work biography

'Set amongst the low scrub of the Mogumber sand plain north of Perth, the Moore River Native Settlement was, for thirty years, "sort of a place like home" for thousands of Aboriginal people. Sanctuary, work camp, orphanage, prison and rural idyll, the settlement was part of a bold social experiment by the Chief Protector of Aborigines, A. O. Neville, the aim of which was nothing less than the total eradication of a race and a culture.

Making extensive and imaginative use of oral resources and hitherto unseen documents, the book paints a vivid and intimate picture of the life experience of Moore River inmates, while documenting the appalling bureaucratic incompetence, official indifference and occasional outright brutality that made Moore River notorious.' (Source: 2003 edition)

1992 winner y separately published work icon Patrick White : A Life David Marr , London : Jonathan Cape , 1991 Z307107 1991 single work biography 'Patrick White, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of more than a dozen novels and plays - including Voss, The Vivisector and The Twyborn Affair - lived an extraordinary life. David Marr's brilliant biography draws not only on a wide range of original research but also on the single most difficult and important source of all: the man himself. Gracefully written and exhaustively researched, Patrick White is a biography of classic excellence - sympathetic, objective, penetrating and as blunt, when necessary, as White himself.' (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1990 winner y separately published work icon Satura : Selected Poetry and Prose John Bray , Adelaide : Wakefield Press , 1988 Z363011 1988 selected work poetry prose criticism
1988 winner Trevor Wilson for The Myriad Faces of War