Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 9, 2021

2021 Deborah Cass Prize winner

The winner of the 2021 Deborah Cass prize has been announced.  The winner receives a cash prize of $3,000 plus a three-month mentorship with an established writer. The winning manuscript is presented to Black Inc. publishers for consideration, with the winning excerpt published in Mascara Literary Review. The award package is designed to help an early-career writer of migrant background to finish their manuscript and get their book published.

The Prize honours the life and work of the late legal academic and occasional writer, Deborah Cass. The granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Deborah became a prize-winning professor of International Law at the London School of Economics before her death to cancer in 2013.  (Deborah Cass Prize for Writing website).

The following is from the press release and the prize website, with thanks to Dan Cass on behalf of the Deborah Cass Prize committee:

The winner, Bryant Apolonio, was chosen from a shortlist of nine writers, and receives $3,000 and a mentorship to assist in further development of his work. Each of the runners-up receives $1,000. All shortlisted writers will have their work read and considered by publisher Black Inc.

Bryant Apolonio’s story is called ‘Independencia’. Apolonio is a Filipino-Australian writer and lawyer living on Larrakia Land (Darwin) in the Northern Territory.

The runners-up are Irina Frolova and Patrick Arulanandam.

You can read the judges comments at the Deborah Cass Prize website.

The prize ceremony was distinguished by the presence of one of my favourite authors Sisonke Msimang whose books I have enthused about here. Msimang is more than an author, she is a public intellectual with a world view that encompasses many fields of action, and Australia is incredibly lucky that she has chosen to make her home here in Australia.  I heard her speak at the Auckland Writers Festival in 2019, and so I was delighted to find that the award ceremony is available to view.

Over at Whispering Gums, Sue has been exploring the contributions of authors of multicultural heritage to Australian literature and if you’ve been following her series (this week about Greek-Australian writers), you’ll be pleased to hear James Button talk about how the aims of this prize include making a contribution to greater diversity in Australian publishing and that previous winners and shortlisted writers of the Deborah Cass prize have achieved publication.

The presentation features guest speaker Sisonke Msimang (writer, activist, political analyst and prize judge), MC James Button (writer, editor and prize co-founder) and Melanie Cheng (writer of fiction and non-fiction and prize judge).  Enjoy!


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