Barbara Jefferis Award

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The Barbara Jefferis Award is an Australian Literary award prize. The award was created in 2007 after being endowed by John Hinde upon his death to commemorate his late wife, author Barbara Jefferis. It is funded by his $1 million bequest.

Jefferis was an Australian writer, and a founding member and first female president of the Australian Society of Authors. She died in 2004.[1] Australian author, Tom Keneally, described Jefferis as "a rare being amongst authors, being both a fine writer but also organisationally gifted".[2]

The Award, which comprises an annual prize of at least $35,000, is one of Australia's richest literary prizes. It is awarded to "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".[2] The novel can be in any genre and does not have to be set in Australia.[1] The award does not specify the author's gender. It is administered by the Australian Society of Authors, and is one of Australia's richest literary awards. It is expected to rival the Miles Franklin Award ($42,000) and the biennial Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize ($40,000).[1]

The prize was first awarded in 2008 to Rhyll McMaster for Feather Man (Brandl & Schlesinger).

Controversy[edit]

The announcement of the award caused a minor controversy in Australian literary circles due to its target. Susan Wyndham, journalist and literary editor, best summarises the issue in her the questions opening her article in The Sydney Morning Herald Blogs: "Does Australia need a new fiction award that encourages 'positive' portrayals of women and girls? Or is it an outdated gesture in a post-feminist culture rich with female authors, characters and readers?"[1]

Wyndham reports Rosalind Hinde, daughter of John Hinde and Barbara Jefferis, as saying that her father had "the very clear and strong intention to honour my mother's writing, her feminisim and her devotion to other writers".[1] Several writers have supported the award, including Tom Keneally, Helen Garner, Frank Moorhouse, Gerald Murnane, Anne Deveson, Kerryn Goldsworthy and Brian Castro. However, writer and critic, Andrew Reimer doesn't like the idea of focusing on "social agenda" over "novelist's skill and imagination", and novelist Emily McGuire agreed, stating that she doesn't "like the idea of judging fiction based on its message".[1] Author and critic, Debra Adelaide, expressed her concern that the award might encourage "safe and constrained" writing and wondered whether "we are getting to the point where we have more awards than publishing opportunities".[1]

Winners[edit]

Shortlisted works[edit]

Winners are listed in bold type.

2008

2009[4]

2010[5]

2011[6]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]