We are delighted to announce that Emily O'Grady has won the 2018 Australian/Vogel's Literary Award with her novel The Yellow House!
Each year, the Vogel's Award introduces us to Australia's newest and most exciting literary talents, and tonight at an awards ceremony held at Allen & Unwin's offices in Sydney, guest host Sofie Laguna named Emily O'Grady the winner.
Tegan-Bennett Daylight spoke on behalf of the judges about The Yellow House, and the strength of the entries this year:
"As a once shortlisted author, it's really lovely to be part of this grand tradition in Australian writing. It's interesting to see so many entries written from the point of young people. Now a girl is always in the process of changing, so her experience lends a natural movement to the story. And our three authors, the winning, shortlisted and highly commended writers, harnessed this beautifully."
Emily O'Grady returns to Brisbane a published author and $20,000 richer, thanks to the generosity of Vogel’s and the Stevns family who in 1980 founded the award. Now in its 36th year, Australia’s richest and most prestigious literary prize for an unpublished manuscript has supported and encouraged many young writers over the years - at least one hundred writers have now found their path to publication thanks to the award. Entries for the 2019 Vogel's Award are open now.
Emily introduced her book, and its themes:
"The main character of my novel The Yellow House is a ten year old girl called Cub. She is thrown into a series of impossibly difficult experiences, and forced to contend with a level of horror beyond most people's level of understanding. This book is set in semi-rural Queensland, a beautiful but often quite oppressive part of the world. It's a story about people who live on the outskirts, geographically and also socially. Characters whose stories are rarely considered, and who are grappling with the aftermath of incomprehensible violence, characters who are rarely empathized with."
Emily said of the prize:
"Thank you to the judges for seeing something worthwhile in the manuscript. When you're an unpublished writer, with no idea how to write a book, you don't really know whether you are a little bit delusional. So to be at this point, many years after Cub and her story started nudging at the corner of my mind, it feels really special.
I am amazed because I didn’t think I was in with a chance. The Vogel's Award has been won by people who are the writers I most admire. I’m still a bit shell-shocked, but seeing the book and the cover today has helped it start to sink in. I just hope I can live up to being among such company.”
Ten-year-old Cub lives with her parents, older brother Cassie, and twin brother Wally on a lonely property bordering an abandoned cattle farm and knackery. Their lives are shadowed by the infamous actions of her Granddad Les in his yellow weatherboard house, just over the fence.
Although Les died twelve years ago, his notoriety has grown in Cub’s lifetime and the local community have ostracised the whole family.
When Cub’s estranged aunt Helena and cousin Tilly move next door into the yellow house, the secrets the family want to keep buried begin to bubble to the surface. And having been kept in the dark about her grandfather’s crimes, Cub is now forced to come to terms with her family’s murky history.
The Yellow House is a powerful novel about loyalty and betrayal; about the legacies of violence and the possibilities of redemption.
Here's what our Vogel's Award judges had to say about The Yellow House:
"Such energy and precision in the writing, not to mention originality." - Tegan Bennett Daylight
"The Yellow House is a visually delightful and compelling narrative with a terrific balance of tension, horror and beauty. Quintessentially Australian." - Megan O'Brien
Annette Barlow, publisher of the Vogel's Award winner, said
"Emily’s novel took hold of me from the first page. The Yellow House is a wonderful winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award and I look forward very much to Emily’s continued successful career."
You can read the opening chapters, and find out more about the book over here, while you'll find The Yellow House in all good bookstores this week.