When the Newman government announced in April it would no longer fund the Queensland Premier’s Literary awards, the community rallied and the Queensland Literary Awards were born.
Tonight, the who’s who of the state’s literary community gathered to celebrate the 15 winners of the inaugural awards.
The mood was clear – tonight we celebrate, for the future is uncertain.
“To be frank, it has been an exhausting effort by those people who are close to the centre of it, the committee and the key workers,” Queensland Literary Awards chairman Stuart Glover said.
“That won’t happen again next year, certainly not in the same way, unless there is some sort of community, or institutional or even government support of some kind.
“It has been spontaneous and sort of beautiful this year, but what happens next year, we don’t know yet. We’re waiting to see.”
The new awards were launched after state government announcement it would scrap the $200,000 award program. It was the first of what would be many cuts to government programs and services.
Judges received more than 600 entries for the 15 categories.
Dr Glover said the awards were made possible through donations from hundreds of individuals, businesses, universities and cultural organisations.
More than $30,000 was raised, which went towards prizes and associated costs.
Dr Glover said the popularity of the awards, in both entries and support went to the importance of literature and writing within the community.
“This isn’t about elite culture, it is about the very broad way that writing is part of our lives,” he said.
“Most people are readers, most people are members of libraries. To dismiss writing as elitism is to misunderstand how important it is.
“Over the last 25 years, the Queensland literary scene has transformed itself. The place is bubbling with writers.
“About a fifth of the short list, of the 68 writers on the shortlist, were Queensland writers. There is a very healthy Queensland representation, even among the national categories that needs to be acknowledged and that needs to be acknowledged and supported and that is what we are trying to do.”
Fiction Book Award: Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse (Sydney)
Non-Fiction Book Award: The People Smuggler, by Robin De Crespigny (Melbourne)
Young Adult Book Award: The Ink Bridge, by Neil Grant (Melbourne)
Children's Book Award: Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers, by Briony Stewart (Perth)
Australian Short Story Collection - Steele Rudd Award: Forecast Turbulence, by Janette Turner Hospital (Queensland resident based in South Carolina, USA)
Poetry Collection - Judith Wright Calanthe Award: Crimson Crop, by Peter Rose (Melbourne)
Emerging Queensland Author - Manuscript Award: Island of the Unexpected writer Catherine Titasey (Thursday Island, Queensland)
Unpublished Indigenous Writer - David Unaipon Award: Story Siv Parker (Queensland born now living in Lismore)
History Book Award: The Biggest Estate on Earth:How Aborigines Made Australia, by Bill Gammage (Canberra)
Science Writer Award: Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, by Rob Brooks (Sydney)
Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate - Harry Williams Award: The Australian Moment: How We Were Made for These Times, by George Megalogenis (Melbourne)
Drama Script Award: War Crimes, by Angela Betzien (Melbourne based previously from Queensland)
Film Script Award: Dead Europe, by Louise Fox (Sydney)
Television Script Award: Mabo, by Sue Smith (Sydney)
People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year: Closer to Stone, by Simon Cleary (Brisbane-based, born in Toowoomba)