Novel about WA’s convict past is in the running for $10,000 MUD Literary Prize

Sharron Booth

Fremantle Press writer Sharron Booth is one of five authors shortlisted for the 2023 MUD Literary Prize. The prize is for the best debut literary novel by an Australian writer and is offered by Adelaide philanthropic group the MUD Literary Club as part of Adelaide Writers’ Week. Now in its sixth year, the winning writer will receive $10,000, an amount made possible by a donation from the Nunn Dimos Foundation.

The judging panel said Sharron Booth’s convict novel The Silence of Water was an engaging historical narrative examining the way in which past crimes can poison families.

Sharron Booth said she was grateful to the judges for seeing the value in the largely ignored stories of Western Australia’s convicts and the women associated with them.

She said, ‘It’s very special for the novel to be recognised by a South Australian–based organisation that’s dedicated to nurturing new writers, as much of the story takes place around the port and beaches of Adelaide. It’s wonderful to be in such fine company with the diverse and original storytellers on this year’s shortlist.’

Emily Brugman, who contributed to the Fremantle Press book Lines to the Horizon also made the shortlist for her novel The Islands. The three other books in contention for the prize are All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien, The Furies by Mandy Beaumont, and A Great Hope by Jessica Stanley.

In a media release about the award, the judges noted that the best books among this year’s entries showed an extraordinary range of ideas along with highly skilled writing. Adelaide Writers’ Week Director Louise Adler said, ‘This year’s top five novels demonstrate impressive talent across a wide range of subject matter. Each book adds insights into modern Australia, from the historical to the contemporary, from wider politics to family dramas, from rural to city life, from different migrant experiences and from the effects of crime on families. These five debut novels reflect the quality of Australia’s literary culture today and the ongoing commitment of publishers to support and nurture new voices. This is a stellar shortlist which showcases the range and diversity of Australian literature in 2023.’

MUD Literary Club is a philanthropic organisation that supports emerging Australian writers. The aim of the MUD Literary Prize is to support a debut literary novelist. The philosophy behind the prize is an acknowledgement that while literary fiction plays a vital role both in the cultural life of Australia, and internationally, it rarely offers writers a living wage. The prize acknowledges that most writers need funds to make it possible to write. The judging panel consisted of Adelaide Writers’ Week Director Louise Adler, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Noel Grieve, David Sly along with MUD Literary Club committee member Mandy Thomas and chair Andrew Saies.

The winner of the 2023 MUD Literary Prize will be announced in the week before Adelaide Writer’s Week commences, and presented with their prize during a special award and interview session at Adelaide Writers’ Week in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Adelaide, at 5pm on Monday, 6 March 2023.

Books discussed
Lines to the Horizon

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