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November 15, 2023

2023 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship Shortlist Announced

On behalf of the Blake-Beckett Trust, the Australian Society of Authors is thrilled to announce the 2023 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship shortlist.

This year’s applications were assessed by Mirandi Riwoe and Anna Spargo-Ryan, who selected four shortlisted applicants:

Emily Bitto

Kate Mildenhall

Kirli Saunders

Michael Winkler

The Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship is offered annually to an Australian author to provide them with valuable time to work on a current manuscript. It is offered by the Blake-Beckett Trust, thanks to the generosity of one of our long-term members and supporters, Wendy Beckett. The prize pool has been increased to $50,000 for 2023. The winner of the Scholarship will receive AU$35,000 and the runner-up will receive AU$15,000.

The winner and runner-up will be selected by Wendy Beckett of the Blake-Beckett Trust and announced on the ASA website on 29 November 2023.

Assessor Comments

Emily Bitto’s Reasons to Leave is a multi-protagonist novel about a wave of Czechoslovakian migrants to the western suburbs of Melbourne. The writing is assured and touching, engaging with themes to do with belonging and labour. Bitto’s work will explore storytelling’s power to enrich both personal and national identity. 

Kate Mildenhall’s We Bought a Town is a contemporary thriller set over three days and told from the perspective of nine characters. The novel engages with ideas concerning society’s fracturing values about how to deal with family and the land. The scope of this work is ambitious and exciting, and the judges were immediately impressed with the synopsis and writing. 

Kirli Saunders’ novel Yaraman is a First Nations queer romance, and is centred around youth incarceration and caring for land. The writing is both lyrical and engaging, demonstrating a vivid response to people and place. This is a well-developed, striking project that incorporates writing, research and mentorship opportunities.

Michael Winkler‘s work with men’s mental health is a powerful backdrop to Griefdogg, a “sort of sequel” to his Miles Franklin-shortlisted Grimmish. Touching on issues of masculinity and vulnerability, alongside climate change and globalisation, the writing leaps from the page to gut-punch its reader, before folding them back in with its tremendous heart. A compelling project with vital currency and relevance.

About the Assessors