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Jessica Au wins Victorian Prize for Literature for Cold Enough for Snow

Image: The Wheeler Centre/TJ Garvie

Melbourne author Jessica Au has won both the Victorian Prize for Literature (worth $100,000) and the Fiction award (worth $25,000) at the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for her novel Cold Enough for Snow. The former is the country’s richest literary prize.

The announcement was made at a ceremony on 2 February 2023 at Melbourne’s Federation Square. (See the moment that Cold Enough for Snow won the night’s major prize.) It came just a few days after the book was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English. 

In her acceptance speech, Au described her win as a ‘life-changing moment.’

‘Prizes, they do fade – you’re left with ordinary life and ordinary time. And that’s just time to think and time to read and time to be. And for me it’s time to stare deeply into the eyes of my cat. And maybe if we’re lucky, out of that time some writing comes – and that’s when you can say all the things that are impossible to say in speeches like this.’

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Au named Rachel Cusk as an influence. ‘I really respect prose that is very clear and direct,’ she told the paper. ‘There’s something in me that likes prose that you can’t really hide behind.’

Listen to Au speak with ABC Radio National the morning after the announcement.

Jessica Au was the inaugural recipient of The Novel Prize, a prize for unpublished manuscripts that ‘explore and expand the possibilities of the form, and are innovative and imaginative in style’. Since it was published in early 2021, Au’s novel has received widespread international acclaim, with rights sold in eighteen territories.

Giramondo congratulates Au, and all the other Victorian Premier’s Literary Award winners and finalists.

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