Amanda Lohrey is the winner of the 2012 Patrick White Literary Award.
Lohrey was presented with the award in Sydney on 16 November. This year’s award is worth $23,000, up from $18,000 in 2011.
The annual award was established by Patrick White with the proceeds of his 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature and is traditionally awarded to authors who ‘have made a significant but inadequately recognised contribution to Australian literature’. The award does not involve a submission process, with writers being ‘automatically eligible’.
This year’s award was judged by Michael Costigan, Debra Adelaide, David Carter and Bernadette Brennan. The judges described Lohrey as ‘a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award’, praising her ‘outstanding contribution to Australian literature as a fiction writer and her distinguished work as an essayist’.
‘In her fiction, Amanda Lohrey creates memorable characters shaped by moral or ethical dilemmas and questions,’ said the judges. ‘Her prose style has developed a distinctive grace and lucidity in expressing these complex issues.
Accepting the award, Lohrey said ‘to be associated with the name and legacy of Patrick White is one of the greatest honours an Australian writer can be granted’. ‘I first read White’s fiction when I was a young woman and it transformed my sense of what it meant to be an Australian,’ she said.
Lohrey is the author of four novels, two novellas and a collection of short stories, as well as essays, articles and book reviews. Her most recent book Reading Madame Bovary (Black Inc.) won the fiction category and the Steel Rudd Award for best collection of Australian short stories in the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Her 1995 novel Camille’s Bread (Fourth Estate) won the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and her 2004 novel The Philosopher’s Doll (out of print) was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Black Inc. and Quarterly Essay publisher Chris Feik told Bookseller+Publisher that it has been ‘a privilege’ to publish Lohrey’s stories, novellas and essays. ‘Few writers in Australia have Amanda’s range, not to speak of her dazzling intelligence. Both her Quarterly Essays were ground-breaking, and I noticed journalists stealing from them for years afterwards. The stories and novellas are wholly distinctive, involving and show a rare formal mastery,’ he said.
This is the 39th time the Patrick White Literary Award has been presented and the total amount of money given to the recipients $760,000. Recent winners of the award include Beverley Farmer (2009), David Foster (2010) and Robert Adamson (2011).