The winners of the 20th Kibble Awards were announced today at the State Library of New South Wales.


Annah Faulkner is the winner of the $30,000 Kibble Literary Award for an established author, for her novel The Beloved (Pan MacMillan Australia).

“Having previously focused her writing in other areas, the Sunshine Coast-based Faulkner’s debut novel is set in Port Moresby and is informed by her own experiences of growing up there from the age of five.”


Lily Chan is recipient of the $5000 Dobbie Literary Award for a first published author, for Toyo: A memoir (Black Inc.).

“Chan was born in Kyoto and raised in Narrogin in Western Australia and now lives in Melbourne. Her debut work charts her grandmother’s extraordinary life from pre-war Osaka to modern day Australia.”

Congratulations to Annah Faulkner, Lily Chan and all shortlisted/longlisted authors.

Perpetual (trustee and manager of the awards) tweeted: “We’re proud of the impact that the Kibble Awards continue to have on Australian women’s literature.”

Andrew Thomas, General Manager of Philanthropy, said of the Awards, “Perpetual is honoured to be involved with the Kibble Awards, which attract and reward the best female writing talent in the country. “We congratulate and celebrate Annah Faulkner and Lily Chan for their achievements today,” Mr Thomas said.

“They and their four fellow shortlisted authors have not only added to the rich tradition of the Kibble Awards, now in their 20th year, but their diverse, complex and dazzling writing has immeasurably contributed to the intellectual and imaginative lives of Australian readers. We are proud of the impact the Kibble Awards have had on Australian women’s literature and will continue to have in the future.”

Mr Thomas said there are only limited opportunities to celebrate women writers in this country and the Kibble Awards, named for the State Library of New South Wales’s first female librarian Nita B. Kibble, have been crucial in the growing attention paid to women writers.

“The Kibble Awards have played an important and pioneering role for two decades in shining a light on both established and emerging female writers. The awards seek to give Australia’s women writers a more prominent voice, just as the trailblazing Nita B. Kibble did in her 44-year career at the State Library of NewSouth Wales,” Mr Thomas said.

The 2013 Kibble Awards Judges are:

  • Dr Brigid Rooney, Senior Lecturer in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney.
  • Ms Jean Bedford, Novelist and short story writer, board member of the NSW Writers’ Centre and co-editor of the online journal the Newtown Review of Books.
  • Ms Maggie Patton, Manager of the Original Materials Branch, State Library of NSW.

Comments from the judges:

The Beloved’s characters leap off the page in their warmth, humanity and vital intensity. Faulkner creates a portrait in words that vividly evoke the painterly vision its protagonist pursues.”

The Beloved is Faulkner’s debut novel and is inspired by her childhood growing up in New Guinea. In addition to the 2013 Kibble Award, The Beloved has won the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for an emerging author and was shortlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Annah Faulkner lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and is now working on her second novel.

The Kibble judges described The Beloved as a gripping novel about mothers and daughters, the love and travails of marriage, being an outsider, and the unstoppable emergence of the born artist. With its characters moving between 1950s Sydney, Melbourne, pre-independence Port Moresby and Vancouver, the novel offers a sidelong yet evocative portrait of Australian expatriatism at an important juncture even as it narrates the life story of an unusual young woman.

“Lily Chan’s stunning book threads contemporary Australian experience through Japan’s twentieth century modernity, performing an imaginative recovery of her family’s deeper history.”

The Kibble judges described Chan’s story of her grandmother as not only a memoir but a vivid, empathetic re-imagining, “life writing” that illuminates a remarkable Japanese woman’s experiences during and after the war, a history implicitly woven into the Australian present of Toyo’s grandchildren.

Toyo offers a brilliantly executed perspective on Australia that speaks to the experience of a first generation migrant who is both enthralled by and feels herself to be alien in a new land, wanting to belong but emotionally wrapped in the memory of all she has lost. Lily Chan’s stunning book threads contemporary Australian experience through Japan’s twentieth century modernity, performing an imaginative recovery of her family’s deeper history,” the judges wrote.

AWWC reviews:

Jessica White, AWW contributing editor, reviewed The Beloved here saying:

“The novel is told in third person from the point of view of Roberta, who in 1954 is struck down with polio.  She manages to walk again, but with a limp and a built-up boot.  She moves with her family to Port Moresby, teaches herself to draw and paint against her mother’s wishes, and finds ways to keep on making art when her mother punishes for it.

I really liked Roberta’s character.  She was tough, defiant and, although painfully aware of her disability, didn’t let it cripple her character.  I have to confess I smirked when, while staying with her mother’s relatives in Canada, her cousin attempts to rape her, snarling, ‘who else is going to want you with that piss-ugly foot?’, and Roberta gets away.  She then ‘lifted [her] booted foot and rammed it between Charlie’s legs.  Piss-ugly, but useful’ (162).

I also loved Faulkner’s lush descriptions of the tropics.  Port Moresby, she writes,

pressed against you with hot damp hands and filled your head with the musky smells of frangipani, copra, rotting plants and dead fish … More than anything, Moresby was colour – the blood-red hibiscus Mama pinned in her black hair; the dark natives bent at the waist, sun flashing off their twisted serif-blades; the dark green mago leaves, dark purple betel juice and orange paw-paw.  Colour was everywhere, and all of it begging to be painted (65).

The pace of the novel was subdued, as though slowed by the muggy Moresby heat, but this meant there was more time for the vividness of the place and its characters to come through.  Although it didn’t have a complex plot or narrative voice, I thought it made up for this with the evocative writing, and was on the whole a relaxing read.”

Lauren Murphy at Australian Bookshelf said of it:

The Beloved is slow at times and I felt it lacked direction probably because the focus is on the characters and not necessarily on the plot. Bertie’s relationship with her mother is tumultuous and there were times I just wanted someone to save Bertie, while other times I could empathise with her mother. Their enmeshed relationship stems from her mother’s unresolved losses and it was a relief to see her take some responsibility for this at the end and provide Bertie with the freedom to be herself.

A thought-provoking Australian story about a young girl and her family during post-war times.”

You can access other reviews of The Beloved via our reviews listings links and in our shortlist and longlist roundups.

Toyo has not yet been reviewed for the AWW Challenge but I first heard about it when posting about the shortlisted Kibble/Dobbie titles. Recently asked to review it, I started reading it last night, fell in love with it and have been inhaling it ever since. I can’t wait to hear Lily Chan speak about it at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.

Keep your reviews coming in!

Happy reading,


About Me

I’m a freelance book reviewer, journalist and editor. I’m always feeling guilty about what I ‘should’ have or ‘should be reading.’ I signed up for the AWW challenge in 2012 and this year, as well as doing my own challenge, I will be posting updates about Literary Awards and writing features. I blog over at Wordsville and you can find me on Twitter @PaulaGrunseit