The Map of William by Michael Thomas has won the Western Australian Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer


The 2024 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced this evening at the State Library of Western Australia, with debut novelist Michael Thomas winning in the emerging writers’ category worth $15,000.

In his speech Michael said he was extremely proud to win an award for a book that was based on his forebears. Michael said, ‘For me, to be recognised as an Emerging Writer at the age of 66 is a privilege.’

The Map of William is a classic rite-of-passage novel that follows one young man on his journey of growth and self-discovery.

Publisher Georgia Richter said, ‘I’m so pleased that Michael Thomas and that beautiful young man, William Watson, have been recognised in a hugely strong field of emerging writers. And, at the other end of the spectrum of experience, I am delighted that both Gail Jones and John Kinsella were inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame. The impact of both writers on Australian culture is immense, as is their generosity of spirit when helping bring forth other storytellers, shedding light on alternate narratives and challenging the status quo in life and in art.’

The induction of Gail Jones and John Kinsella into the Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame brings its membership to 20. Each member is highly respected within the industry and broadly recognised for their distinctive work and contribution to WA literature.

Gail Jones, whose debut book won the Hungerford Award in 1991, said she was grateful for the stories she had been obliged to learn about when growing up in Western Australia including stories such as that of the Noongar activist Fanny Balbuk who she referenced in her speech.

John Kinsella, who has published more than 20 books with Fremantle Press, both as an individual and a co-creator, thanked the many collaborators he’s worked with across the years. Kinsella said, ‘I believe deeply in community … I see this award as a shared thing.’

Children’s writer Dianne Wolfer, who won the WA Premier’s Award for Lighthouse Girl in 2010, won Children’s Book of the Year. Seven additional Fremantle Press writers were also shortlisted; Chemutai Glasheen, Mark Greenwood, Julia Lawrinson, Molly Schmidt, Laurie Steed, Georgia Tree and Emma Young.

In a media release about the awards, Premier Roger Cook said, ‘This year’s awards showcase the best in Western Australian storytelling, and I encourage everyone to support our exciting talent by delving into the captivating and engaging stories that won and were nominated.’

Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards are for books published or self-published in 2023. The awards support, develop and recognise excellence in Western Australian writing. The State Library of Western Australia manages the Premier’s Book Awards on behalf of the Government of Western Australia.

More information about all the awards is available on the State Library’s website: https://www.wa.gov.au/government/media-statements/Cook-Labor-Government/Talented-storytellers-celebrated-at-2024-WA-Premier’s-Book-Awards-20240607


Books discussed
The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry
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