Alexis Wright has won the 2016 Kate Challis Award with her novel, The Swan Book.
In their citation the judges noted: ‘Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book is a sprawling, magnificent achievement, a remarkable imaginative vision of Australia as it was and is, and will be. Set at some point in the future, in a world utterly changed by global warming, war and the global movement of people, it charts the life of a mute young woman, Oblivian Ethel(ene), beginning with her fraught relationship with an old, enigmatic refugee, Bella Donna of the Champions. The novel is full of mythologies and soaring imagery: the swans, for example, are ever-present and say so much about the predicament of the world they inhabit. At the same time, the novel launches a devastating critique of Australia’s treatment of Indigenous people: condemning the Federal government’s Intervention, and showing us the many ways in which a militarised colonialism has shaped, and continues to shape, Indigenous lives in Australia’s north and across the nation.’
In 1994, Emeritus Professor Bernard Smith (late) established “The Kate Challis Award” to honour the memory of his late wife, Kate Challis, who was known in her youth as Ruth Adeney (RAKA is an acronym for the Ruth Adeney Koori Award). In the Pintupi language RAKA means ‘five’ and in the Warlpiri RDAKA means ‘hand’. The donor stipulated that the award be made annually and is to be applied to encourage Indigenous artists to undertake literary works, paintings, sculptures, craftwork, plays and musical compositions and to assist in advancing the recognition of Indigenous achievements in these areas.
To read more about the award, visit the website.