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Tedeschi wins 2022 Calibre Essay Prize

Sydney-based classical musician Simon Tedeschi has won the 2022 Calibre Essay Prize for his essay ‘This Woman My Grandmother’. Tedeschi, whose debut Fugitive, will be published by Upswell this month, receives $5000 and publication in the May issue of the Australian Book Review (ABR).

‘My grandmother, a Polish Jew, the only survivor of a family obliterated by the Nazis, wrote a memoir of her wartime years shortly before she died sixteen years ago,’ said Tedeschi. ‘Only recently was I able to bring myself to read it. When I did, it caused not only a torrent of memory to erupt but spurred me to find out more about this tormented woman who, despite her vociferousness and overbearing presence, was the bearer of secrets too painful to divulge.’

Selected from 569 entries from 17 countries, this year’s winner was chosen by judges Declan Fry, Beejay Silcox and ABR editor Peter Rose, who said Tedeschi’s essay has ‘a powerful, memorable duality: it’s at once forceful and gentle, timeless and timely’.

‘While Tedeschi plays with eternal themes—the fragility of memory and intergenerational anguish—there is also a quiet urgency to his account of his grandmother, Lucy’s, complicated legacy. We stand on the cusp of a great forgetting: the Holocaust is fading from living memory, and Covid is ravaging our elderly. As we lose our story-keepers and war rages in Europe, it feels vital not just to honour the past, but to acknowledge its knots and nuances. That is what Tedeschi has done in this remarkable essay, with grace, care, and glorious prose craft.’

This year’s runner-up Sarah Gory receives $2500 for her submission, ‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’, which will be published in a future issue of ABR.

Last year’s winner was Canberra-based editor, translator and author Theodore Ell for ‘Façades of Lebanon’.

For more information about this year’s winning essay, see the ABR website.

Pic credit: Cole Bennetts


Category: Awards Local news