The Warwick Prize for Writing

The Warwick Prize for Writing was launched in 2008 and is an innovative literature prize that involves global competition, and crosses all disciplines. The Prize is given every two years for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form.

Australian writers Tom Keneally (The Daughters of Mars), Robert Gray (Cumulus) and Amy Espeseth (Sufficient Grace) have been nominated for their outstanding writings.

Here are some summaries of those three titles

The Daughters of Mars by Tom Keneally –

In the tradition of Atonement and Birdsong, the Durance sisters leave Australia to nurse on the front during WWI and discover a world beyond their imaginings. Naomi and Sally Durance are daughters of a dairy farmer from the Macleay Valley. Bound together in complicity by what they consider a crime, when the Great War begins in 1914 they hope to submerge their guilt by leaving for Europe to nurse the tides of young wounded. They head for the Dardanelles on the hospital ship Archimedes. Their education in medicine, valour and human degradation continues on the Greek island of Lemnos, then on the Western Front. Here, new outrages – gas, shell-shock – present themselves. Naomi encounters the wonderful, eccentric Lady Tarlton, who is founding a voluntary hospital near Boulogne; Sally serves in a casualty clearing station close to the front. They meet the men with whom they would wish to spend the rest of their lives. Inspired by the journals of Australian nurses who gave their all to the Great War effort and the men they nursed. The Daughters of Mars is vast in scope yet extraordinarily intimate. A stunning tour de force to join the best First World War literature, and one that casts a penetrating light on the lives of obscure but strong women caught in the great mill of history.

Cumulus by Robert Gray

This book is a landmark in Australian poetry. For Cumulus, Robert Gray has chosen all he wishes to retain from his eight volumes of poetry, some of it considerably and significantly revised. He has included here a new book, ‘Nameless Earth’, not previously published in Australia.

Gray has been a daring and original experimenter in the free verse line, and also at times with traditional forms. Equally, his work is notable for its frequent, uncanny rightness in the creation of images. His thinking shows a remarkable fluency in both Eastern and Western philosophies (Gray has referred to himself as a Buddhist heretic). These are all modernist pathways, and this poetry negotiates them with a lucid, classical temper.

Most striking is an ever-alert immediacy—a perception and reflectiveness in the fluid moment. Whether through his sensuous language or his powerful engagement with ideas, Gray’s poetry continually opens us to a fresh involvement with the physical world.

Sufficient grace by Amy Espeseth

Ruth and her cousin Naomi live in rural Wisconsin, part of an isolated religious community. The girls’ lives are ruled by the rhythms of nature–the harsh winters, the hunting seasons, the harvesting of crops–and by their families’ beliefs. Beneath the surface of this closed, frozen world, hidden dangers lurk. Ruth learns that Naomi harbors a terrible secret: she searches for solace in the mysteries of the natural world, seeking broken fawns, migrating birds, and the strange fish deep beneath the ice. At once devastating and beautiful, and ultimately transcendent, this is a story of lost innocence and the unfailing bond between two young women.

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