Kgshak Akec's Hopeless Kingdom and Josh Kemp's Banjawarn have both been named in the Australian Book Review's 2022 Books of the Year.
Tony Hughes d'Aeth, chair of UWA Publishing and one of the judges of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award, named the joint winners of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award as two of his favourite books of 2022.
Here is what Tony had to say:
"I genuinely think the joint winners of last year’s Dorothy Hewett Prize (I was a judge) are both electric new voices in Australian writing. Kgshak Akec’s Hopeless Kingdom (UWAP) is a powerful mother–daughter story that opens up the Australian-African experience. Josh Kemp’s Banjawarn (UWAP, 4/22) brings a scintillating prose to the outback gothic. It came as no surprise that Banjawarn has recently picked up a Ned Kelly award."
Read the full article here.
HOPELESS KINGDOM by Kgshak Akec
Akita’s family have always kept moving to survive. Sudan to Cairo. Cairo to Sydney. Sydney to Geelong.
Each new place challenges Akita, her siblings and her parents. Just when eight-year-old Akita is feeling settled for the first time in her life, her parents decide to relocate to Geelong. The move is the beginning of a downward spiral that threatens to unravel the fabric of their family and any hope for finding peace and belonging. Told through the interchanging perspectives of Akita and her mother, Taresai, this coming of age story shines a light on the generational curses of trauma, complex family dynamics, and how it feels to love someone unconditionally, even when it hurts. Individually, the female narrators experience racism, rejection and despair, but together their narratives reveal a resilience of spirit and determination to transcend expectations of what a daughter, a sister, and a mother can be. Hopeless Kingdom gives a voice to the silent heartache of searching for acceptance in an adopted society which can’t look past the surface of skin colour.
Hopeless Kingdom is the winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award. Inspired by the author’s own experience of migration from Africa to Australia, this story signals a powerful new voice in Australian writing.
Winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and 2022 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction.
Love, friendship and hope are often found in the strangest places, but forgiveness is never simple, and the past lies buried just beneath the blood red topsoil. The only question is whether Hoyle should uncover it, or run as fast as his legs can take him.
Banjawarn is an unsettling debut from Josh Kemp. Echoing Cormac McCarthy’s haunting border trilogy and narrative vernacular that recalls the sparse lyricism of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton, this is a darkly funny novel that earns its place amongst the stable of Australian gothic literature.