The Asher Literary Award

Belinda Castles has won this year’s Asher Literary Award for her book Hannah and Emil. From the publisher Allen & Unwin, we know this book is

“An inspiring novel of great courage and enduring love set against a backdrop of the turmoil and devastation of World War II.

Emil and Hannah live their lives amid the turmoil of twentieth-century history. Emil, a German veteran of the Great War, has returned home to a disturbed nation. As inflation and unemployment edge the country near collapse, Emil’s involvement with the resistance ultimately forces him from his family and his home.

Hannah, soaked in the many languages of her upbringing as a Russian Jew in the West End of London and intent on experiencing the world, leaves home for Europe, travelling into a continent headed again towards total war. In Brussels, she meets the devastated Emil, who has just crossed the border on foot from Nazi Germany, leaving tragedy in his wake.

All too briefly, they make a life in England before war strikes, and Emil, an enemy alien, is interned and then sent away. Hannah, determined to find him, prepares herself for a lonely and dangerous journey across the seas . . .

Hannah & Emil is a moving love story of courage and conviction – riven by the powerful currents of history.”

What is the Asher Literary Award, information found from Australian Society of Authors indicates:

“The Asher Literary Award is offered biennially to a female author whose work carries an anti-war theme. The Award is managed by the Australian Society of Authors on behalf of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and is valued at $10,000.

Made possible by a bequest from Mrs Helen Waltraud Rosalie Asher, the Award was established in 2005. Helen Asher, also known as Helen Ulrich, was the author of Tilly’s Fortunes (Penguin, 1986). Her shorter works were published in various anthologies.

A post-WWII refugee from Germany, Helen was deeply committed to Australia’s artistic and cultural life. Both Helen and her husband Mervyn were active in Sydney’s literary community.”