Last night we attended the announcement of the 2011 Australian Vogel's Awards at a reception at the Allen & Unwin offices in Sydney. Author Tim Winton presented this year’s award to Rohan Wilson for his book, The Roving Party. And we were there to chat to Rohan about his life-changing win.
We had a great time at this event and we’ve uploaded lots of photos on our Facebook page.
Back in 1981 struggling student and writer, Tim Winton, travelled to Sydney and donned his "lounge suit", to be awarded prize money of $5000 for his manuscript, An Open Swimmer. As a joint winner of the second Autralian Vogel Award, his novel was also published by Allen & Unwin. Thirty years on and Winton is one of this country’s best-known literary authors – though, as he mentioned in his speech, none the wiser about what exactly a "lounge suit" is.
Tim Winton is certainly not the only author whose career has been launched on the back of this unique award. The Australian Vogel Award was established in 1979 by Niels Stevns, founder of the company that makes Vogel bread, and past winners include Kate Grenville, Brian Castro, and Mandy Sayer.
In partnership with the Australian newspaper and Allen & Unwin, the prize offers publication for a manuscript written by an author under the age of 35. The 2011 prize also comes with a cash prize of $30,000. (A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation by Allen & Unwin Chairman, Patrick Gallagher, showed Vogel has given away around $1million in the 30 years of the competition.)
The judges – Cate Kennedy, Margo Lanagan, and Geordie Williamson – had a difficult task in judging this year. But of all the entries, The Roving Party stood out. Cate Kennedy said:
“I’m still talking about this story to people long after finishing it – the spark in it, especially accounts of the meetings between indigenous Tasmanians, has stayed with me … it seems so startlingly distinct from every other manuscript in this batch.”
Congratulations Rohan! We can’t wait to start reading The Roving Party (and sampling some of the lovely cereal Vogel gave out last night). In a break from tradition for the Vogel, the book is available from today. In the past, we’ve had to wait a number of months to see the winning manuscript in bookshops, but this year, you can get your hands on it straight away.
Congratulations also to fellow shortlistees, Jade Maitre (A Short Death) and Romy Ash (Floundering, which will be published by Text in 2012).
The committed staff at Allen & Unwin are already thinking about next year’s book – entries for the 2012 competition are now open and you have until Tuesday 31 May 2011 to submit your manuscript. All the details are on the Allen and Unwin website.