The Davitt Awards are sponsored by Sisters in Crime Australia and are named in honour of Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia’s first full length mystery novel, FORCE AND FRAUD in 1865. Awards are given annually to celebrate the best Australian crime writing by women.
This year’s winners were announced at a gala dinner last night (1 September) in Melbourne. Special guest for the evening was one of Sweden’s most highly respected crime writers, Åsa Larsson, who was, according to the interview carried out on the night by Sue Turnbull, inspired to take the Sisters in Crime concept home to Sweden!
The first award of the night was for Best True Crime and it went to journalist and author Liz Porter for COLD CASE FILES in which old cases from Australia, the UK and the US are re-opened in the light of new forensic techniques.
Next came the award for Best Young Fiction book which was apparently fiercely contested. Ursula Dubosarsky’s THE GOLDEN DAY was highly commended by the judges but the winner of this category was Meg McKinlay for SURFACE TENSION
The next award was for Best Adult Novel. Carolyn Morwood’s DEATH AND THE SPANISH LADY was highly commended by judges but the award went to Sulari Gentill for A DECLINE IN PROPHETS. It is historical crime fiction set in 1930’s Australia (and beyond) and it is a delight to read, combining thoughtfully drawn characters, a wonderful sense of time and place and a ripper of a story.
The new category for this year of Best Debut Novel went to Jaye Ford for her novel BEYOND FEAR. Ford is yet another journalist-turned-crime-writer and penned a book with loads of strong female characters and snappy pace which I liked a lot.
The final award of the night was the Reader’s Choice Award. All the books in all the other categories are eligible for this award and all members of Sisters in Crime Australia are able to vote for it (and apparently 550 of us did). This year the award was shared by Jaye Ford’s BEYOND FEAR and Y.A. Erskine’s THE BROTHERHOOD! Both great books.
Congratulations to all the winners and all the writers of the eligible books. Even from my limited reading of the books in these categories I can attest to the fact that Australian women’s crime writing is in great form and it is especially pleasing to see that even within the constraints of the crime genre there is such a wide variety of stories being told with many of these titles crossing over into historical, romance, speculative fiction and other genres.
Information in this post was provided by Vim & Zest Communications and the ever-helpful twitterverse, especially @angsavage to whom I offer a particular thanks for the vicarious thrills provided via #davittawards. This post is a slightly edited version of one first posted at Fair Dinkum Crime