Slee wins inaugural Banjo Prize
HarperCollins Australia has announced journalist Tim Slee as the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize for an unpublished work of Australian commercial fiction for his manuscript ‘Burn’.
Slee’s work was chosen from a shortlist of five announced in mid August. He receives a publishing contract with HarperCollins, with an advance of $15,000.
‘Burn’ is about a bankrupt dairy farmer who decides he’d rather sell off his herd and burn down his own house than hand them over to the bank, but he tragically dies in the blaze. His wife decides to hold a funeral procession for her late husband as a protest, and puts his coffin on a horse and cart to slowly drive the 350 kilometres from Heywood to Melbourne to bury him where he was born. But more mysterious arson attacks occur throughout the state as the funeral procession makes its way through Victoria.
HarperCollins head of fiction Catherine Milne described the winning manuscript as ‘a novel that sneaks up on you, and takes you by surprise—and before you know it, you’re deep in its world and don’t want to leave’.
‘“Burn” is a thought-provoking, heart-warming, quintessentially Australian novel like no other, and I’m just thrilled that it is our inaugural Banjo Prize winner,’ added Milne.
Slee said he was ‘rapt’ about being selected as winner and being signed by HarperCollins. ‘It makes me especially proud and happy that the manuscript that broke through for me is “Burn”, which is a book born in a time of bushfires, drought and hardship, and in which I tried to capture just a little of that unbreakable rebel spirit, that deep love of the land and support for each other through thick and thin, that to me is what Australia is really about.’
HarperCollins also announced two runners-up, who will each receive a written manuscript assessment from HarperCollins. The runners-up are Ruth McIver for ‘Nothing Gold’ and Gregory James for ‘Bordertown’.