Ell wins 2021 Calibre Essay Prize
Canberra-based editor, translator and author Theodore Ell has won the 15th Calibre Essay prize for ‘Façades of Lebanon’, his essay on the Beirut explosion in August 2020. Ell receives $5000 and his essay will appear in the July issue of the Australian Book Review (ABR).
Ell, who was living in Beirut with his diplomat wife at the time of the explosion, said, ‘I am astonished to receive this honour. This turn of events and the joy it has brought were inconceivable when the Beirut explosion struck … I dedicate the award of this prize to my wife and to our friends from the Lebanon years, for all that we went through together.’
Selected from a field of 638 entries from 28 countries, this year’s winner was chosen by historians Sheila Fitzpatrick and Billy Griffiths and ABR editor Peter Rose. They describe ‘Façades of Lebanon’ as ‘a gripping piece of reportage and a powerful meditation on the bonds of community in a time of turmoil and upheaval’.
Anita Punton was named runner-up for her essay ‘May Day’, a memoir about piecing together her Olympic gymnast father’s life after his death. She receives $2500 and publication in a forthcoming issue of ABR.
The winner of last year’s Calibre Essay Prize was Yves Rees for their essay ‘Reading the Mess Backwards’. Following Rees’s win, Allen & Unwin acquired their memoir All About Yves: Notes from a transition, which will be published in September 2021.
For more information about this year’s winning essay, see the ABR website.