Balint, Meany win 2021 Viva la Novella prize
The 2021 Viva la Novella prize has been awarded to Christine Balint for Water Music and Helen Meany for Every Day is Gertie Day. Both novellas have been published by Seizure.
This year, award organisers Seizure and Brio Books partnered with the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies (FALS) at James Cook University to strengthen regional representation by selecting one winner from a regional area. Balint, from Arthurs Seat in Victoria, was the regional recipient for her novella Water Music.
Water Music is a work of literary historical fiction, examining the little-known system of patronage that existed in Venice between 1400 and 1797. Girls of any class or background could be given a full-time musical education leading to a career in music, if they passed an audition. In many cases, this allowed impoverished girls to earn income and save for a dowry or establish a career—enabling them to forge a fruitful life.
Meany’s winning novella Every Day is Gertie Day centres on Nina, a tour guide at a small museum in Sydney who is unwittingly drawn into a major cultural brouhaha. ‘At the intersections of art, politics, identity and representation, this darkly funny novella shows us a world that is weird, disturbing and all too familiar,’ said the prize organisers.
Now in it’s ninth year, the award was, according to co-founders David Henley and Alice Grundy, designed to push back against the prevailing wisdom that books had to be a certain length to warrant publication. Previous winners of the competitions include Mirandi Riwoe, Marlee Jane Ward, Daniel Davis Wood, Bryan Walpert and George Haddad.
The winners of the 2021 prize were announced in an online event on Wednesday, 6 October.