The Kibble Literary Award aims ‘to encourage Australian women writers to improve and advance literature for the benefit of our community’ and recognises works of both fiction and non-fiction.
Sophie Cunningham’s Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy revisits one of the nation’s most recognised disasters. When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia’s season of goodwill.
For the fortieth anniversary, Sophie Cunningham went back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation—and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist’s eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more—and more destructive—extreme weather with every year that passes.
Sophie Cunningham is also the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008), and the non-fiction work Melbourne (UNSW Press, 2011). She is a former editor of Meanjin and was until recently the chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board. Warning was also longlisted for the 2014 Walkley Book Award. Sophie was awarded the 2015 Calibre Prize for her essay ‘Staying with the Trouble’.
In This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident?
The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice. This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia’s most admired writers.
Helen Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip, won the 1978 National Book Council Award and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays and feature journalism. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra. In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
Visit the Kibble Literary Award website for more information about the shortlists.