Two eminent Australian authors – Christopher Koch AO and Gerald Murnane – will be honoured with Australia Council for the Arts’ writers’ emeritus awards at a ceremony in Melbourne today.
The writers emeritus awards, each worth $50,000, are the richest and most established career achievement prizes in Australian literature.
Dr Imre Salusinszky, chair of the Australia Council’s literature board, said that the two awards recognised the calibre of the works created by the authors.
‘There can be few more fitting recipients of these writers emeritus awards. Both have a level of public recognition that does not match their high literary stature,’ he said.
‘Christopher and Gerald have changed the face of Australian writing through the breadth of their respective imaginations. Each of their works are characterised by a uniquely Australian perspective on the world.’
Christopher Koch AO is one of Australia’s most influential writers. He is the author of seven novels, and has twice been awarded the Miles Franklin Award for The Doubleman in 1985 and Highways to War in 1996. Mr Koch’s novel The Year of Living Dangerously was made into an Academy Award-nominated film by Peter Weir.
Gerald Murnane’s eight fiction works have received critical acclaim in Australia and overseas. His most enduring work, The Plains, was republished in Australia and the USA following his being awarded the Patrick White Literary Award in 1999. Mr Murnane has worked in several universities over the past 20 years.
The Australia Council for the Arts’ writers emeritus awards are amongst the highest honours in Australian literature. They recognise the achievements of Australian writers over the age of 65 who have made an outstanding contribution to the field and created an acclaimed body of work.
The emeritus awards have a long tradition, having antecedents in the Commonwealth Literary Fund’s award created in 1908. Past recipients include Vince Serventy, Dorothy Hewett, Bruce Dawe, Judith Wright McKinney, Dr Ruby Langford Ginibi and Patricia Wrightson.
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