Don Watson’s The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia has taken out the overall Book of the Year award in the Australian New South Wales Premier’s Awards announced tonight as part of the Sydney Writers Festival. Watson who was a speechwriter for the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, also won the prize for non-fiction. Other winners were Mark Henshaw whose The Snow Kimono won the fiction prize and David Malouf who won the prize for poetry with Earth Hour.
Playwright David Williamson received a special award recognising him as Australia’s “greatest playwright with a prodigious output of more than 40 plays that have shaped how we view ourselves”. He announced he would donate his $10,000 prize to the Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre.
Full list of winners:
As with travel, a great deal of the pleasure of book festivals lies in the planning. Hours can be whiled away pouring over brochures or web sites, drawing up timelines and bemoaning a clash of favorites. And as the almost final decisions take place there is that delightful frisson of anticipated pleasure followed by a flurry of preparatory reading.
Sydney Writers Festival, which kicks off next week, has grown from a rather modest, largely parochial affair, to a weeklong extravaganza with such variety of offerings that have earned it an international reputation. Although there are sessions spread around the city the main venue is the Walsh Bay precinct with its awesome outlook over Sydney Harbour. There is a constellation of internationally recognised guests from Australia and