Helen Garner’s powerful novel The Spare Room has won the second annual Barbara Jefferis Award.
Beating fellow Text author Toni Jordan, whose debut novel Addition was also also on the shortlist, Helen Garner claimed the $35,000 prize for ‘the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society’.
The Barbara Jefferis Award is a terrific new addition to the Australian literary landscape, just in its second year, and we are very proud to have two Text books on the shortlist. We congratulate Helen Garner, whose list of prizes for The Spare Room now includes the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Fiction and the Queensland Premier’s Prize, and shortlistings for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction and the ALS Gold Medal.
Barbara Jefferis was a feminist, a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors, its first female President and, in the words of Thomas Keneally, “a rare being amongst authors, being both a fine writer but also organisationally gifted. She was a professional and internationally published writer long before most of us dreamed of such things”.
The Award is paid from the Barbara Jefferis Literary Fund, which was established by a bequest from Barbara Jefferis’s husband, ABC film critic John Hinde, who died in 2006. The Australian Society of Authors is Trustee of the Fund.