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Nita May Dobbie Award
Subcategory of Kibble Literary Awards Kibble Literary Awards Nita Kibble Literary Award
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The Nita May Dobbie Literary Award recognises a first published work from an Australian woman writer. Established in 1994 under the will of Nita May Dobbie, the Dobbie is one of a pair of awards – the Nita B. Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers. Both awards recognise female writers who have published fiction or non-fiction classified as 'life writing'. This includes novels, autobiographies, biographies, literature and any writing with a strong personal element.

The awards were presented annually until 2016, when they became biennial.

The award was not awarded in 2020, due to a review of the funding trust and the award processes.

Source: Sighted: 15/11/2013.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Trauma Cleaner The Trauma Cleaner : One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster Sarah Krasnostein , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11873511 2017 single work biography

'I call my dad from the car and ask him about his morning, tell him about mine.

'‘What kind of hoarder was she?’ he asks.

'‘Books and cats, mainly,’ I tell the man who loves his cats and who I know is now actively considering his extensive book collection.

'‘What’s the difference between a private library and a book hoarder?’ he wonders.

'We are both silent before we laugh and answer in unison: ‘Faeces.’

'But the difference is this phone call. And the others like it I could make—and how strong we are when we are loved.

'Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife…

'But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

'A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

'Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead—and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Salt Creek Lucy Treloar , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2015 8775071 2015 single work novel historical fiction

'Salt Creek is set in the Coorong in the 1850s: a remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region in the new province of South Australia, which has been opened to graziers willing to chance their luck. Among them are Stanton Finch and his family, including sixteen-year-old Hester Finch.

'Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the travellers passing along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Hester witnesses the destruction of their subtle culture and begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2015

winner y separately published work icon Heat and Light Ellen van Neerven , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2014 7667260 2014 selected work short story fantasy (taught in 1 units)

'In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.'

'Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.'

'Heat and Light presents an intriguing collection while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2014

winner y separately published work icon Madness : A Memoir Kate Richards , Camberwell : Viking , 2013 Z1928228 2013 single work autobiography

'It's Not Every Day You Get to Admit You're Mad.

'The thing with psychosis is that when I'm sick I believe the delusional stuff to the same degree that you might know the sky is above and the earth below. And if someone were to say to me that the delusional thinking is, in fact, delusional, well that's the same as if I assure you now that we walk on the sky. Of course you wouldn't believe me, and that's why it's sometimes so hard for people who are sick like this to know that they need treatment. Psychosis and severe depression have a huge effect on how you relate to other people and how you see the world. It's a bit like being in a vacuum, or behind a wall of really thick glass . . . you lose any sense of connectedness. You're cast adrift from everyone and everything that matters.

'I've lived with acute psychosis and depression for the best part of twenty years. This is the story of my journey from chaos to balance, and from limbo to meaning.' (Publisher's blurb)

Year: 2013

winner (First published author) y separately published work icon Toyo : A Memoir Lily Chan , Collingwood : Black Inc. , 2012 Z1885758 2012 single work biography

'Toyo learned to ask nothing, to wait and count the days. But they passed and passed and still the doorway remained empty of his deep voice, calling out her name.

'Blending the intimacy of memoir with an artist's vision, Toyo is the story of a remarkable woman, a vivid picture of Japan before and after war, and an unpredictable tale of courage and change in today's Australia.

'Born into the traditional world of pre-war Osaka, Toyo must always protect the secret of her parents' true relationship. Her father lives in China with his wife; her unmarried mother runs a café. Toyo and her mother are beautiful and polite, keeping themselves in society's good graces.

'Then comes the rain of American bombs. Toyo's life is uprooted again and again. With each sharp change and painful loss, she becomes more herself and more aware of where she has come from. She finds family and belief, but still clings to her parents' secret.

'In Toyo, Lily Chan has pieced together the unconventional shape of her grandmother's story. Vibrant and ultimately heart-rending, Toyo is the chronicle of an extraordinary life, infused with a granddaughter's love.' (Publisher's blurb)

Works About this Award

Fiona Wright's Small Acts of Disappearance Has a Big Win at the Kibble Award Susan Wyndham , 2016 single work
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 14 July 2016;
'Sydney poet and essayist Fiona Wright has won the $30,000 Kibble Literary Award for women's life writing. In her book, Small Acts of Disappearance, Wright examines her own anorexia and the significance of hunger in a slender collection of essays that are both intimate and intellectual, frank and filled with poetic observations. ...'
Fiona Wright Wins $30,000 Kibble Prize for Essay Collection on Anorexia Steph Harmon , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 14 July 2016;
'The acclaimed writer, critic and poet Fiona Wright has won the prestigious Kibble award for Australian women writers, taking $30,000 for Small Acts of Disappearance, a collection of essays about anorexia. ...'
The Strays Wins the Stella, Shortlisted for the Dobbie 2015 single work column
— Appears in: Books + Publishing , July vol. 95 no. 1 2015; (p. 7)
Olsson Lands Kibble Award for Tale of Stolen Brother Susan Wyndham , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 24 July 2014; (p. 33)
Favel Parrett Wins the Dobbie Literary Award Naomi Gall , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: Artery , December 2012;