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Pham, Kruimink and Tu named SMH 2021 Best Young Australian Novelists

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has announced its 2021 Best Young Australian Novelists, all of whom have been chosen for debut novels.

The writers are:

  • K M (Kate) Kruimink for A Treacherous Country (A&U)
  • Vivian Pham for The Coconut Children (Vintage)
  • Jessie Tu for A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing (A&U).

The award, established by former SMH literary editor Susan Wyndham, recognises emerging writing talent and is open to writers aged 35 or younger at the time of publication of their nominated book. This year, Copyright Agency support means Pham, as overall winner, will receive $8000, while Tu and Kruimink will each receive $1000.

Judges SMH literary editor Jason Steger and novelists Peggy Frew and Pip Smith said all entries in the awards were impressive. ‘The books overwhelmingly tackled two common themes: learning to be comfortable with the self in a world that would prefer people conform to others’ ideas of identity, and the human relationship with a haunting or vanishing environment,’ they said, noting the ‘strong contingent from Tasmanian authors this year’ and ‘several excellent young-adult titles, which managed to explore identity with intimacy and nuance’.

The judges were unanimous in selecting the three stand-out titles and said ‘all three novels were written from the live wire: they felt fresh, unflinchingly honest, and comfortable in their own voices’.

Of overall winner Pham, whose novel has been optioned for screen and is being adapted for stage by the author, the judges said: ‘Pham’s non-judgmental portraits of parents living with trauma and children struggling to comprehend their parents’ choices is nuanced and wise; work one would expect from a writer far beyond Pham’s very young years. Each of us eagerly await the future development of this remarkable new voice and firework of a talent.’

Pictured: Overall winner Vivian Pham


Category: Local news