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December 7, 2022

2022 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship winner announced

On behalf of the Blake-Beckett Trust, the Australian Society of Authors is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2022 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship.

This year’s applications were assessed by Shankari Chandran and Jennifer Mills, who selected the three shortlisted applicants:

Ashley Hay

Gretchen Shirm

Julienne van Loon

We would like to introduce Wendy Beckett of the Blake-Beckett Trust to announce the winner of the 2022 Scholarship, and exciting news for next year’s Scholarship.

Assessor’s Comments

The judges were impressed by the exceptionally high standard of entries and felt that each of three shortlisted authors would have been a worthy winner.

Ashley Hay’s The Running Dream is an intriguing exploration of the subconscious in the era of climate crisis. The writing demonstrates a sophisticated project that promises to contribute meaningfully to the growing body of Australian climate fiction. Hay deftly navigates the shifting space between anxiety and optimism, resignation and resistance, with a cast of engaging and surprising characters.

Gretchen Shirm’s Blue Chair is an exciting work of testimonial fiction about the impacts of war crimes, based on her experiences working at the International Criminal Tribunal. A well-developed and deeply considered proposal which positions Australian characters in a global context. The Blue Chair explores a terrible period in recent history using these specific injustices to interrogate the universal and ongoing trauma of war.

Julienne van Loon’s Who is the city for? engages with ideas that are deeply relevant to contemporary democracy, such as the housing crisis, public space, intersectional privilege and community life. Interesting, engaging writing with a strong political impact, the extract demonstrates the power of literature in activism. The project is ambitious in its intellectual reach without losing any intimacy in its story-telling.

Congratulations to Ashley Hay, recipient of the 2022 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship!

About the Winner

Ashley Hay’s work has been praised for its ‘intelligent scrutiny of the human psyche’, ‘a tenderness that is deeply compelling’ and its ‘simple grace’. Her previous novels – The Body in the CloudsThe Railwayman’s Wife and A Hundred Small Lessons – have received various prizes and nominations and been published internationally and in translation; a revised and expanded edition of her narrative non-fiction Gum: The Story of Eucalypts and Their Champions, was published in 2021. She works as a writer, editor, facilitator and mentor, and has published in journals and anthologies including CosmosThe GuardianReading Like an Australian Writer and Living in the Anthropocene. Between 2018 and 2022 she was the editor of Griffith Review.

About the Scholarship

The Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship was established in 2019 thanks to the generosity of one of the ASA’s long-term members and supporters, Wendy Beckett. Each year it offers $20,000 to an Australian author to provide them with valuable time to work on a current manuscript. 

In December 2022, Wendy Beckett announced that from 2023 the Scholarship would be increased to a total prize pool of $50,000, with $35,000 awarded to the winner, and $15,000 awarded to second place.

Find out more about the Scholarship here.

About the Assessors

Shankari Chandran is an Australian Tamil lawyer and the author of Song of the Sun God (Ultimo Press, 2022), Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens (Ultimo Press, 2022) and The Barrier (Pan Macmillan, 2017). Song of the Sun God is being adapted for television, starring Bridgerton’s Charithra Chandran (no relation). Her short stories have been featured in Sweatshop anthologies, Another Australia and Sweatshop Women (Vol 2). She was the recipient of the inaugural Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship in 2019.

Jennifer Mills is an author, editor and critic based on Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide). Her latest novel, The Airways (2021), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for Horror. Dyschronia (2018) was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, Aurealis (for Science Fiction), and Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. A widely published essayist and a strong advocate for the rights of writers and artists, her work also includes teaching, mentoring and organising. In 2022, Mills is Artist in Residence at Vitalstatistix.