The Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript 2023 - Shortlist


UWA Publishing, in partnership with The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, is
proud to be announcing the shortlist for the 2023 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

The judging panel has selected the following works:

The Bone Singer by Christine Bell
Depth of Field by Kirsty Iltners
99 Names by Lukas Jackson
Along the Lightning Ridge by Nakita Kitson
The Hum Hearers by Shey Marque
Francesca Multimortal by Val Colic-Peisker
Semblance by Vivienne Glance


The judging panel for the 2023 Award is Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, Astrid Edwards, Thuy On
and Kate Pickard. This year the award received over 220 entries from across Australia.
The judges were highly impressed, and slightly overwhelmed, by the quantity and quality
of entrants to this award. Arriving at this shortlist has been a challenging and exciting
task. The list represents a snapshot of the vitality of Australian writing. 

In 2022 the judges announced the winner of the award to be Brendan Ritchie for his
manuscript Eta Draconis which will be available on 14 May 2023. Previous winners include
Josh Kemp’s Banjawarn, Kgshak Akec’s Hopeless Kingdom, Karen Wyld’s Where the Fruit
Falls and the inaugural winner, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, which went on to win the
Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002) is considered one of Australia’s most important writers, her
work challenging the norms of 20th century Australian culture. Hewett made her mark
as a poet, playwright and novelist. In 1986, Hewett was made a Member of the Order of
Australia (AM) for her services to literature. Hewett won the Western Australian Premier’s
Poetry Award in 1994 and 1995 for her collections Peninsula and Collected Poems:

The Award is open to manuscript submissions of fiction, narrative nonfiction or poetry and
the winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000, courtesy of Copyright Agency Cultural
Fund, and will be offered a publishing contract with UWA Publishing.

UWA Publishing sends a warm thank you to the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund for its
ongoing support for the Dorothy Hewett Award. The winner will be announced in June.


The Judges

Tony Hughes-d’Aeth is the Chair of Australian Literature at The University of Western Australia, the Chair of the UWA Publishing Board, and Director of the Westerly Centre. His research has a particular focus on literature and the environment. His book Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (UWAP, 2018) won the Walter McRae Russell Prize for best work of Australian literary criticism in 2019. His first book Paper Nation: The Story of the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, 1886-1888 (MUP, 2001), won the Ernest Scott and WK Hancock prizes for Australian history.

Astrid Edwards is a bibliophile. She teaches in the Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University and hosts two literary podcasts - The Garret: Writers on Writing and Anonymous Was A Woman. Astrid is also the Chair of Melbourne Writers Festival and serves on the Victorian Disability Advisory Council. A longer bio can be found at


Thuy On is an arts journalist, editor, critic, and poet. She’s currently Reviews Editor and writer for online publication, ArtsHub. Turbulence (UWAP 2020) was her debut collection of poetry. Decadence, her second collection, was also released by UWAP, in July 2022.

Kate Pickard is the Publishing Manager at UWA Publishing and has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years in both Melbourne and Perth.


Judges comments

The Bone Singer
The Bone Singer tenderly evokes the aftermath of the Great War through the eyes of Hugo Maitland, a soldier who has volunteered with the Australian War Graves Detachment to recover bodies of fallen Australians in the Somme. In the grim singularity of Hugo’s task, the novel explores the vicissitudes of recovery and solace. The novel is a profound story about the rediscovery of life in the midst of unimaginable destruction.

Depth of Field
In this gripping novel, the camera becomes the encryption of what is known and what escapes the frame. With its casually clipped first-person narration, and alternating narrative perspectives, Depth of Field asks questions about the reliability of memory and the conditions of representation. Shutter-speed, aspect ratio, apertures, depth of field, the metrics of light—the mechanisms of photography are allowed to falter just enough to expose the fragility of the images and moments that make up life.

99 Names
Set within the families of Sydney’s Lebanese diaspora, 99 Names is a visceral coming-of-age story. The novel shows how the conflicts and traumas funnel downwards and reach their crisis point in ‘the kid’. The novel vividly evokes the impasses of migrant experience and how these refract through generations. It is a moving story which deals with both the challenges of life’s extremities and the seductions of extremist solutions.

Along the Lightning Ridge
Along the Lightning Ridge is a powerful historical novel set near the southern capes of Western Australia in the early colonial moment. It is a sensitive reimagining of the interface between colonial femininity and its encounter with the radical difference of people and environment. With echoes of the life of Georgiana Molloy, the heroine Georgie catalogues the plants that surround her in this new place and becomes intimately enmeshed in the life of the Noongar whose land she is helping to conquer.

The Hum Hearers
Brilliantly observational and meditative, the poems in The Hum Hearers detonate like muffled explosions. Generational trauma is counterbalanced by hidden wells of resilience and subterranean solidarities. The poems, written in sprung prose, offer the counter-memories of women held together by the cycles of life that fall upon them with quiet devastation. The piquant aphorisms and subtle epiphanies in these poems rewrite the banalities of experience in a newly epic register.


Francesca Multimortal
Francesca Multimortal is a daring and profound novel that cascades through the reincarnations of Francesca as she lives out her lives at pivotal points in European history. Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, the latest Francesca is 58 years old and living in Covid-stricken Melbourne. It is from this vantage point that the previous lives unfold with a subtle and mesmerising force. A beautifully realised novel that opens up the dimensions of life and how it is to be a woman.

Semblance is a big-hearted eco-novel set within the battle to save the southern forests of Western Australia. The pacing of the novel, and its sense of moment, makes you feel the urgency of a crisis that moves between its human and more-than-human actors. Semblance pulses with a fierce immediacy, dense with the sense impressions of forest life. It also unfolds as a powerful crime story, but one which asks us to fully understand the nature of crime in the Anthropocene.


Click here to download the media release.