Kate M. Kruimink, a Tasmanian author and writer, has been awarded the 2020 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for her novel A Treacherous Country, becoming the eighteenth female author to win the prize in the Award’s 40 year history.
The $20,000 award is for unpublished manuscripts and gives young Australian writers the encouragement, support and recognition they need to develop their writing. The first prize was given in 1980 to Archie Weller’s novel The Day Of The Dog and boasts an impressive list of past winners, including Kate Grenville, Tim Winton and Helen Dale.
The judges were unanimous in selecting Kruimink’s book as the winning manuscript from four shortlisted books, all of whom were authored by female writers. Kruimink was given the news of her win last September, but could only share the news with her husband. “It was a challenge to keep it to myself, but I just tried to not mention it,” she told Women’s Agenda.
Kruimink said during a live chat with the authors that she had the character in her head for some time, but while she had a newborn baby at home googled the Vogel to see if she had time to enter. When she saw she had eight months, she used the opportunity “as a bit of a lifeline, just doing something with my head.”
Award-winning author Tegan Bennett Daylight said Kruimink’s novel is “witty, warm, lively and elegant.” Bennett Daylight was one of this year’s judging panel, which also included Melbourne bookseller Megan O’Brien.
“It’s astonishingly wonderful to have my book published,” Kruimink said in a statement. “It’s just as wonderful to be able to say, “Yes, this is something I’ve wanted to do”. She also said the award motivated her to finish the novel.
“To actually win is helping me articulate to myself what I could really like to do with my career, and it’s given me permission to articulate it to others too.”
The Tasmanian native, who studied at the University of Tasmania where she is now an English Language teacher, started the book while she was a student, and returned to the manuscript in the last few years, and then completing it in 8 months.
“I’ve always been a daydreamer,” Kruimink said. “I was always a big reader and as a young person, I would always tell myself little stories and make up adventures.”
She credits Hilary Mantel, Cormac McCarthy and Kazuo Ishiguro as her inspirations.
In a live broadcast Tuesday evening, Patrick Gallagher, Chairman at Allen & Unwin, said the annual celebrations aimed to highlight the “talented and committed writers” who made it to the shortlist, and that despite there being no party this year, they would be using “every virtual means possible to promote the news of the Award to the reading public.”
Singer and author Claire Bowditch, whose memoir Your Own Kind of Girl was published by Allen & Unwin last December, announced the winner. She also congratulated the three shortlisted manuscripts, from Emily Brugman (The Islands) Belinda Lopez (Tete) and Maree Spratt (The Followers).
Kruimink’s novel has been published by Allen & Unwin and will be on sale from today. You can support Australian booksellers by purchasing the novel from your local bookstore.
The novel traces the journey of a man newly arrived from England to Tasmania in the 1840s (then called ‘Van Diemen’s Land’), as he searches for a mysterious woman.
The Prize is open to all Australian citizens under the age of 35 for an unpublished manuscript and offers a prize money of $20,000 in addition to publication of the novel.
Last year, the Award was not given as the judges said they were not able to find a manuscript that lived up to the award’s standards.