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$15,000 award uncovers new writing talent

Date: 4 June 2012

First time novelist Graeme Simsion has taken out the $15,000 Victorian Premier's Literary Award   for an Unpublished Manuscript for The Rosie Project - a story of a man with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome who is searching for his perfect match.

The Rosie Project was judged the winner by an expert panel comprising author and bookseller Peter Mews; co-founder and Creative Director of Sleepers Publishing Zoe Dattner; Director of Writers Victoria, Roderick Poole; and author Nick Gadd, who won the Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2007.

Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu said the award aimed to uncover and reward new writing talent in Victoria.

"Emerging writers play a key role in Victoria's literary scene, bringing new ideas and perspectives and boosting our credentials as a UNESCO City of Literature.

"The award for an Unpublished Manuscript recognises that it's not publishing that makes you a writer, it's the writing itself. Congratulations to Graeme, not only for this award but for his persistence and passion for storytelling," Mr Baillieu said.

The judges commended Simsion for his 'moving and comic novel' and his 'remarkable narrative voice'. In addition to $15,000 in prize money, the award includes professional development support from Writers Victoria   .

Announcing the winner tonight on behalf of the Premier and Minister for the Arts, the Hon Jeanette Powell MP said the prize was part of the Victorian Government's commitment to providing opportunities for emerging artists across the state.

"Congratulations to Graeme and to all of the shortlisted writers," Ms Powell said.

"This award represents a terrific opportunity for an emerging writer to get that big career break and the public recognition they deserve. I look forward to what lies ahead."

Since the first Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript was awarded in 2003, eight of the nine recipients, and several shortlisted writers, have gone on to have their works published.

The Victorian Premier's Literary Awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas   and the program includes five further prize categories - Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama and Young Adult - each with $25,000 in prize money.

Winners in these categories are eligible for the overall $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature - the most valuable literary award in the country. The 2012 program also includes the biennial $15,000 Award for Indigenous Writing. These remaining awards will be presented in September.

VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD FOR AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT

2012 WINNER:

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion (Fitzroy)

Don Tillman is a 40-year-old geneticist with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome. When he wants to find a partner, he approaches the project the only way he knows - systematically. He creates a questionnaire designed to find the perfect woman - a punctual, non-drinking, non-smoking female who will fit in with his regimented lifestyle. When Rosie appears on the scene, she fits none of Don's criteria - but she does turn his life upside down. Graeme Simsion's moving and comic novel, sustained by a remarkable narrative voice and illuminated by dramatic and hilarious scenes, takes the reader on an immensely satisfying journey as Don seeks to find out if he is capable of real love.

2012 SHORTLIST:

STRANGE EVENTFUL HISTORY by Stephen Samuel (Clunes)

An original take on an iconic Australian story, Strange Eventful History brings new depth to the Burke and Wills legend. Australian publishing has seen a lot of real and fictional accounts of this infamously ill-fated expedition, but here we read an almost thriller-like account that reveals the inner turmoil of the expedition's doomed leaders, the pain of John King "the one who survived", and the fascinating re-enactments of the Royal Commission's enquiry that followed. Written with contemporary flair and the skill of a natural storyteller, Strange Eventful History is a remarkable and chilling novel.

THE DAY WE LOST THE MOON by Rose Mulready (Elwood)

Rose Mulready's protagonist is a rakish male literary agent enduring a spectacular marriage collapse. From well-observed comic scenes of his emotional unravelling, set in some very familiar inner Melbourne locations, the novel builds in complexity as he becomes more and more involved with his most successful (yet reclusive) literary client. The gradual revelation of this writer's life and her newest work brings the novel to a powerful and poetic conclusion. The judges found the writing clever, humorous and engaging, and the entwining of the fictional and "real" narratives very compelling.

VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD FOR AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT JUDGING PANEL

  • Nick Gadd (Convenor): Nick Gadd is an author and the winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2007. His novel, Ghostlines, was published in 2008.
  • Peter Mews: Peter Mews is a Melbourne author and bookseller. His most recent novel Bright Planet was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year.
  • Zoe Dattner: Zoe Dattner is the co-founder and Creative Director of Sleepers Publishing and General Manager of SPUNC (The Small Press Network).
  • Roderick Poole: Roderick Poole is the Director of Writers Victoria.
Graeme Simsion is the winner of the 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Graeme Simsion is the winner of the 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.