First-time Fitzroy author Graeme Simsion has won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript (worth $15,000) for his novel The Rosie Project, about a man with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, searching for his perfect match.
The judges commended the ‘moving and comic novel’ and its ‘remarkable narrative voice’.
Simsion is currently overseas, so couldn’t be there to accept the award last Friday night – but he had a well-qualified stand-in on the night. Ros Walker, who is involved in making his winning story into a film, read a passage from the manuscript and had everyone laughing.
The expert panel of judges comprised 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Publishing Zoe Dattner; director of Writers Victoria, Roderick Poole; and author Nick Gadd, who won the Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2007.
The two other shortlisted authors were Stephen Samuel, for Strange Eventful History, an original take on the Burke and Wills legend that the judges declared ‘remarkable and chilling’; and Rose Mulready, for The Day We Lost the Moon, her ‘clever, humorous’ novel about a rakish male literary agent enduring the collapse of his marriage, as he becomes increasingly involved with his most successful client.
Here’s a small taste of the three shortlisted manuscripts.
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.
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 inquiry 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.
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