ACU academics win NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Two ACU academics have been awarded prizes in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The Warrior, the Voyager and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire by Professor Kate Fullagar was awarded the prestigious Douglas Stewart Prize, the prize for the best non-fiction book published in Australia in the past year.

The judges described the work as an innovative and exhilarating account of three 18th-century lives: the British painter Joshua Reynolds, the Cherokee warrior Ostenaco and the Ra’iatean Mai. 

“Bringing together these three men allows Kate Fullagar to think in new ways, not only about encounters between the British empire and Indigenous societies, but to explore the assumptions and limitations of biography itself. This surprising and intelligent work draws on a deep well of research to animate a historical period in which worlds and world views collided. 

“It was the audacity of this project that most impressed the judging panel, one that succeeds thanks to Kate Fullagar’s committed research and fine prose style. It’s a book very interested in visual culture and there is a cinematographic quality to the narrative. Indeed, if the panel regretted the lack of colour illustrations, we found ourselves often contemplating the worlds of the book brought to screen in documentary form. The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist is a dazzling work, one that invites readers to look not only at Ostenaco and Mai through the eyes of Joshua Reynolds, but to look back at Reynolds and Georgian Britain from the standpoint of these two men.”

The award for the best translation into English was also won by an ACU academic. Philosopher Dr Nick Trakakis won for his translation of Autumn Manuscripts by Tasos Leivaditis, translated from Greek and published by Smokestack Books. Dr Trakakis shared the prize with Mariana Dimópulos, for her translation of the novel Imminence.

The translation prize is intended to acknowledge the contribution made to literary culture by Australian translators, and recognizes the vital role that literary translators play in enabling writers and readers to communicate across cultures throughout the world. 

The judges noted Autumn Manuscripts, the final book by Greek poet Tasos Leivaditis (1922–88), is a suite of vignettes and snapshots, of abbreviated elegies and fleeting thoughts, sometimes no more than an impish observation, sometimes sketching in quick strokes the mythic past or a 20th century apocalypse.

“Arresting in its imagery, sure handed of tone, the Manuscripts discover eternity in anything, in urban minutiae, in the flotsam of dreams: a woman at a pier, the stripe on a stationmaster’s hat, father’s lapel marigold. Trakakis’ translation is fresh and mobile, making this a book to return to over and again, to be startled anew by the sincerity of its strangeness, and soothed by its deep, sweet, coming to grips with death,” they said.


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