City of Fremantle Hungerford Award judges whittle 90 entries down to a shortlist of four

Joy Kilian-Essert, Gerard McCann, Marie O’Rourke and Molly Schmidt are in the running for $15,000 in prize money from the City of Fremantle and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press. All four Western Australian writers were shortlisted for the 2022 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award, which is in its 32nd year.

Fremantle Press Publisher Georgia Richter said this year’s award, which is judged anonymously, attracted 90 manuscripts by debut Western Australian writers. Richter said though each manuscript on the shortlist is distinct in form and content, they are all engaging, skilfully written stories which hold the reader’s attention.

Richter said, ‘Joy Kilian-Essert’s collection of short stories, The Slow Patience of the Sea & other stories, contains gems of observation exploring everyday people and settings in new and unexpected ways. Gerard McCann’s Tell Me a Story is an immensely readable memoir, and his handling of confronting subject matter is unstintingly honest and open-hearted. Marie O’Rourke’s collection of narrative non-fiction essays in Kintsugi contains astute and luminous meditations on memory and family connection. Finally, Molly Schmidt’s novel Salt River Road, about five siblings left to deal with the repercussions of losing their mother, is an engrossing prose and verse novel revealing a tale of hope and healing.’

City of Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said all the writers who entered should be congratulated for their achievement in writing write a book-length manuscript. She said, ‘It has been a joy to see former winners like Alice Nelson and Holden Sheppard getting national attention for their latest books this month, and I eagerly await the announcement of the next winner. The City is proud to support an award that continues to discover and highlight new voices from Western Australian authors. Our local community of writers goes from strength to strength every time we host this award. I urge all readers to join us at the Fremantle Arts Centre to help welcome these dynamic new storytellers.’

The City of Fremantle Hungerford Award has a proud history of helping authors of outstanding talent at the crucial early stages of their careers. Authors like Gail Jones, Simone Lazaroo, Natasha Lester, Donna Mazza, Alice Nelson, Kim Scott, Holden Sheppard and Brenda Walker have all either won or been shortlisted for the award.

The City of Fremantle Hungerford Award is given biennially to a full-length manuscript of fiction or narrative non-fiction by a Western Australian author previously unpublished in book form. It is sponsored by the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Press. This year’s guest judges were Natasha Lester, Rashida Murphy and Richard Rossiter.

The winner of the 2022 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award will be announced on Thursday 20 October at Fremantle Arts Centre.

The City of Fremantle Hungerford Award is proudly sponsored by the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Press. The event sponsor is Fremantle Arts Centre.


About the authors

The Slow Patience of the Sea & other stories by Joy Kilian-Essert

Joy Kilian-Essert lives on a rural bush retreat in Western Australia’s Great Southern region and has been writing obsessively since childhood. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing at Curtin University, her short fiction began to win or be placed in writing competitions, with a number being published in various journals and anthologies around Australia. She was also a participant in the inaugural Australia Council’s Emerging Writer’s program.

Tell Me the Story by Gerard McCann

Gerard McCann grew up in the suburbs of Perth in the 1950s and 60s. He studied architecture at UWA and practised in the profession for many years. During that time he has always written, studied English literature post-grad and belonged to small writing groups.

Kintsugi by Marie O’Rourke

Marie spent many years reading, analysing, and teaching the stories of others before working up the nerve to start shaping her own. Fascinated by the multiplicity and mutability of self, Marie’s writing focuses on the contradictions and quirks of memory and identity. Her essays have been published in respected national and international journals such as a/b, Axon, Essay Daily, Meanjin, Meniscus, New Writing, TEXT and Westerly. Marie holds a PhD from Curtin University, where she now teaches across the Creative Writing, English and Cultural Studies, and Professional Writing and Publishing departments.

Salt River Road by Molly Schmidt

Molly Schmidt is a writer and journalist, currently undertaking the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program. She is collaborating with Noongar Elders from her hometown, Albany, with the goal of producing a novel which actively pursues reconciliation between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples. She completed a thesis on the topic in 2021 and is now enjoying delving into her fiction writing. By day, Molly works as a radio producer and reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where her passion for storytelling is put to good use.

About T.A.G. Hungerford (1915 – 2011)

T.A.G. Hungerford was widely admired as a quintessential Western Australian writer and identity. He was a major contributor in helping us define our sense of self and place in a rapidly changing world. His first collection of short stories was published in 1976 by Fremantle Press. Stories from Suburban Road, A Knockabout with a Slouch Hat and Red Rover All Over have all been major publishing successes. In 1987, T.A.G. Hungerford was made a member of the Order of Australia. In 2002, he was the recipient of the Patrick White Award and in 2004 he was declared a Western Australian State Living Treasure. He was proud to have the unique WA award for debut writers, the T.A.G. Hungerford Award, named for him. He was always a great supporter of new and emerging writers.

Past winners
1990 Brenda Walker, Crush
1991 Gail Jones, The House of Breathing
1993 Simone Lazaroo, The World Waiting to be Made
1995 Bruce Russell, Jacob’s Air
2000 Christopher Murray, A Whispering of Fish
2002 Nathan Hobby, The Fur
2004 Donna Mazza, The Albanian
2006 Alice Nelson, The Last Sky
2008 Natasha Lester, What is Left Over, After
2010 Jacqueline Wright, Red Dirt Talking
2012 Robert Edeson, The Weaver Fish
2014 Madelaine Dickie, Troppo
2016 Jay Martin, Vodka and Apple Juice: travels of an Undiplomatic Wife in Poland
2018 Holden Sheppard, Invisible Boys
2020 Maria Papas, Skimming Stones

Download the judges report

Book your tickets to the 2022 City of Fremantle Hungerford Ceremony and Great Big Book Launch.

Share via: