Wiradjuri writer scores hat-trick at 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Taking home three major prizes at the 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Tara June Winch’s novel, The Yield, is one for the pool room.

Winning 2020 Book of the Year, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the People’s Choice Award, the Wiradjuri writer was praised for a ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘original’ fiction novel. The prizes saw Winch awarded a total of $50,000 in prize money.

With many notches on its belt, the novel was also shortlisted for both the Stella Prize and the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Hailing from New South Wales, Winch now resides in France. She spoke about her win to the ABC, saying it meant a lot to take home such titles at the Premier’s Literary Awards of her home state.

The Yield plays with the concept of time, bringing forward the voices of characters Albert Gondiwindi, his granddaughter August, and 19th century missionary Reverend Greenleaf. The Yield tells a strong story of connection with language and its power within cultural identity.

The novel draws upon Wiradjuri language through a dictionary created by Winch’s character Albert Gondiwindi.

During her acceptance speech, which was broadcast during the virtual award ceremony, Winch said she hoped her book would move the Department of Education to incorporate traditional language into the education curriculum.

Winch also noted in an Instagram post the impact of Dr Uncle Stan Grant Senior on her writing and his role in preserving Wiradjuri language.

Winch wrote in the caption:

“Thank you for all the kind words, however this book is only possible by the life’s work of Uncle Dr Stan Grant Snr AM … Please look at the beautiful preservation of the Wiradjuri language and all he has done for his people and his country.”

Winch’s Instagram post about Dr Uncle Stan Grant Senior’s impact on her writing. Photo via Instagram.

The winners of this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced via a pre-recorded ceremony streamed on the State Library of NSW website Sunday evening, presided over by state librarian John Vallance.

Indigenous writer, Tony Birch, took home the Indigenous Writers’ Prize for his novel The White Girl.

By Rachael Knowles

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