Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 29, 2018

2018 Territory Read Book of the Year Awards

Hey, I didn’t mean to overwhelm readers with multiple postings on one day, but news of the NT Book Awards has just come through.
There are three categories:

  • Territory Read Book of the Year: For a published book across all genres by an NT author;
  • Best Non-Fiction: For a prose work other than a work of fiction. Includes biography, auto-biography, memoir, creative non-fiction, history, philosophy and literary criticism by an NT author;
  • Best Children’s or Young Adult: For a published book in either genre by an NT author.

Winners will be announced in July. The total prize money in 2018 is $9000.

This is the press release:

The NT Writers’ Centre was pleased to announce the 2018 Territory Read Shortlist last Thursday at the festival opening of Wordstorm Darwin. This year, the judges received and considered 24 individual works over a number of categories. The incredibly varied submissions provided a unique insight into the diversity and breadth of NT writers and the stories they tell. Especially notable was the large number of non-fiction entries, ranging from touching memoirs of individuals to more scholarly works capturing NT history and history makers. Since 2009, the Territory Read awards have created an opportunity to celebrate excellence amongst published authors from the NT. They also draw national attention to NT writers and in the past have served to raise the profile of remote, regional and Indigenous authors. Amongst past winners are Mary Anne Butler, Clare Atkins, Andrew McMillan, Marie Munkara and more.

The shortlisted titles, with the judges comments, are:

  • Rachel Barnett: There’s a Crocodile on the Golf Course, Holus Bolus Books, 2017: With clever rhymes, endearing characters and charming illustrations, There’s a Crocodile on the Golf Course is both an original delight and a very Territorian tale.
  • Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley: Go Home, Cheeky Animals Allen & Unwin, 2016: The latest offering from the successful partnership between Dion Beasley and Johanna Bell, Go Home, Cheeky Animals is a beautifully produced children’s book with a wonderful sense of humour that provides a rarely-seen insight into life in a remote Northern Territory community.
  • Mary Anne Butler: Broken, Currency Press, 2016: Mary Anne Butler’s extraordinary play script for Broken works as well on the page as it does for performance. Through an incredible blend of realism and surrealism, Broken’s wonderfully clever writing captures the distance and isolation of NT life. Her interwoven tales carry a highly tense and dramatic story that is both quintessentially Territorian and universal. If you’ve never thought about reading a play script before, this is definitely the place to start.
  • Frank Byrne, with Frances Coughlan and Gerard Waterford: Living in Hope, Ptilotus Press, 2017: Living in Hope, Frank Byrne’s unforgettable childhood memoir, reveals the life of a boy firstly living with his family in the Kimberly region of Western Australian and then, from the age of six, his life as a member of the Stolen Generations. The voice is vivid, authentic and full of life – a heartbreaking story that perfectly balances light and shade. Frank Byrne is a remarkable storyteller: intelligent, generous and clear-eyed in the face of obstacles and systemic cruelty. There are dozens of individual stories here, all told in Byrne’s luminous voice, and each one is an irreplaceable slice of Australian history.
  • Sam Carmody: The Windy Season, Allen & Unwin 2016: The Windy Season by emerging author Sam Carmody conjures the harsh landscapes and harder lives of the northern coastline of Western Australia. Violence, secrets and being stuck in the past swirl within the depths of Carmody’s Wintonesque waters. His gritty, authentic voice and distinctive dialogue is well suited to this dark and atmospheric story.  I’ve read this one, see my review.
  • Charlie Ward: A Handful of Sand, Monash University Publishing, 2016: The moment that Gough Whitlam poured a handful of sand into Vincent Lingairi’s hand has been much mythologised but little understood. This retelling of the Gurindji Walk-off is an assured and respectful exploration of the facts of the Wave Hill ‘victory’ and the subsequent struggles and heartbreaking challenges of the Gurindji people. Charlie Ward is an intelligent and empathetic writer who fully engages with the complexity of this important moment. His connections and history with the community and his expertise with public policy combine to expose the little- known reality of an iconic moment in Australian history.


  1. I was thinking that prize money would be welcomed by any struggling author but then noticed it’s divided across the three prizes. Shame they can’t find a sponsor t be more generous.


    • Yes, but the NT has a very small population – only about 1/4 million people spread over a *vast* area. Darwin, the capital, only has a population of about 120,000. So there’s neither a large cohort of potential sponsors nor much of an audience for the sponsor’s money. Their government would have a small tax base too, so it’s really terrific that they have these awards at all. Under the circumstances, the major value of the prize and the shortlisting would be the exposure and the possibility of increased sales.

      There are, of course, mining companies making huge profits in the NT, but there’s not much sign of corporate sponsorship in the arts anywhere in Australia. They’re more likely to sponsor a football team…


      • Ah that explains things a lot. Sponsorship of football irritates me when I see how so much much money is spent on salaries. Who is really worth £50000 a week?


        • Yup. We live in an insane world…


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