An award for the best first book of literary scholarship by an early career researcher (ECR) on an Australian subject, published in the preceding two calendar years. Researchers are eligible for this award if their book is published within five years of the date of PhD award, or longer if combined with periods of significant career interruption. No nominations are required, though ASAL members are invited to propose books for consideration by the judging panel.
Bridget Grogan completed her thesis on Patrick White in South Africa, where she now teaches at the University of Johannesburg. Her detailed study of Patrick White’s fiction is the first major monograph on his work for several decades. It examines White’s work in relation to his recurring interest in physicality and abjection, drawing skilfully on the theoretical and critical work of Julia Kristeva and others. Through insightful close and comparative reading she demonstrates the inadequacy of earlier critical work on this important aspect of White’s fiction, while drawing attention to what she calls his ‘somatic spirituality’.
Xu Daozhi completed her thesis at the University of Hong Kong where she is now a senior research assistant. Her book uses Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to analyse how Aboriginal culture is represented in works for children written by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian authors. She examines school texts as well as imaginative literature and looks at issues of publication and reception, together with ethical issues. Indigenous Cultural Capital is a substantial contribution to research in the still neglected area of Australian children’s literature.
Geoff Rodoreda completed his thesis at the University of Stuttgart, where he currently teaches. His book examines a wide range of novels published since the Mabo decision of 1992, looking at both canonical and lesser-known works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors. It discusses ‘Four Core Post-Mabo Novels’, by David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Andrew McGahan and Alex Miller, and includes insightful readings of Debra Adelaide’s Serpent Dust and Peter Mews’ Bright Planet. Subsequent chapters deal with the impact of the Mabo decision on novels set in contemporary Australia, including Dorothy Hewett’s Neap Tide and Michelle de Kretser’s The Lost Dog, and also with what Rodoreda terms ‘sovereignty novels’. These works, by Indigenous authors Alexis Wright, Kim Scott and Melissa Lucashenko, ‘articulate a sovereign space and place for Indigenous Australian communities on the Australian continent’. Rodoreda is concerned with the ways in which these works represent changing attitudes to land and belonging, nation and history, and relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in both the past and the present.
Elizabeth Webby, Chair
Note about the Alvie Egan Award: This award has been established in honour of Mrs Alvie Egan, a long-serving Secretary of the Australian Literature Society and grand daughter of the poet Bernard O’Dowd.