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Magabala to launch Daisy Utemorrah Award

Broome publisher Magabala Books will launch a new unpublished manuscript award in the second half of 2018 to find the best children’s or YA novel by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer.

The inaugural Daisy Utemorrah Award will be open to works of fiction in the junior fiction and YA categories, including graphic novels but excluding poetry. The award will be open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently living in Australia, and the winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and will see their manuscript published with Magabala under the guidance of an Indigenous editor.

The inaugural award will open and run in the second half of 2018, with the winner to be announced in 2019 and publication of the winning title expected for 2020. A full schedule will be announced later in the year.

Magabala publisher Rachel Bin Salleh will serve on the judging panel for the inaugural award along with author and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina and a third judge, who is yet to be announced.

Bin Salleh told Books+Publishing Magabala is aiming to ‘grow this area of writing for many aspiring Indigenous writers or established authors’. ‘We believe that this is an area that is under-written especially in regards to writings by Indigenous authors for Indigenous children (as well as the greater community)’.

Bin Salleh said the the prize was established partly to address the lack of Indigenous writing in children’s publishing, particularly in the category of junior fiction. ‘There seems to be not enough stories in this area [and] YA is also under represented,’ said Bin Salleh. ‘We are hoping that the award will help to grow and contribute to Indigenous and diverse voices in this area … Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are an important part of the writing ecology in Australia, and internationally.’

The award is named in honour of author and poet Daisy Utemorrah, who was an elder of the Wunambal people from the Mitchell Plateau area in the far north Kimberley. Utemorrah wrote the poetry collection Do Not Go Around the Edges (illus by Pat Torres, Magabala) in 1991, and the book was shortlisted for the 1991 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year for Young Readers and won the 1992 Australian Multicultural Children’s Book Award.

Magabala received funding for the prize from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, and the publisher is looking to grow the award over the next three years. ‘We are very committed to it as well as to the future of Indigenous writing in Australia in general,’ said Bin Salleh.


Category: Junior Local news