Dani Powell is the winner of the 2022 NT Chief Minister's award for fiction for her work Return to Dust published by UWA Publishing in 2020.
'Dani Powell has lived in Alice Springs for decades and it shows in this arresting, poetic account not only of Central Australia's landscape but also of modes of being in the world.' Kerryn Goldsworthy inThe Age, June 2020
'Stranded between landscape and metaphor, searching for traction in the rituals of the western desert, a woman excavates memory and the archaeological evidence of an ancient catastrophe to come to terms with the death of her brother. Return to Dust is a haunting and poetic meditation on grief and the omnipresence of death in life.' Kim Mahood
'Return to Dust is a wise meditation on memory, grieving, time and place, the allure of landscape, belonging and displacement, and much more. It is graced with reflection, lyricism and depth of feeling, interwoven with a loving, respectful and honest depiction of friendship and engagement with Western Desert indigenous life. Powell seeks to connect across cultures, tracing the parallels, whilst honouring the differences as personified in one individual’s quest for reconciliation with the fragilities of life and death.' Arnold Zable
Announced at a special event on Wednesday 22 June, this year’s judges Marie Munkara, Leonie Norrington and Leni Shilton had noted that the entries this year, in both English and First Nations languages, “tackled a number of substantial topics with great insight … including personal, cultural, environmental and family issues.” Taking out the winning prize for best fiction is Dani Powell with her incredible debut novel Return to Dust (UWA Publishing), a philosophical tale of coming to terms with the death of a loved one, described by the judges as an “extremely fine and nuanced work that explores the boundaries of grief and loss through cultural complexity and friendship. This is a powerful and important work.”
For over 10 years the Chief Minister’s NT Book Awards have been celebrating the talent, originality and flair of writers in the Northern Territory and sharing this with the rest of the country.
Of the winners, Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has made the following statement: “The Northern Territory Labor Government commends the exceptional work of the three winning authors in this year's awards. Their books are outstanding examples of the unique and remarkable stories emerging from the Northern Territory, and the significant contribution writers and storytellers make to our cultural landscape.”