A Book About What It Means To Travel Has Become One Of Australia's Most Awarded Novels

Michelle de Krester has been honoured once again for her book Questions of Travel. Source: supplied

Sri Lankan-born Australian novelist Michelle de Kretser’s book Questions Of Travel is fast becoming Ian Thorpe of Australian literature after receiving more prizes last night: the $10,000 Book of the Year in NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the $40,000 Christina Stead Prize and being named co-winner of the $20,000 Community Relations Commission Award for a Multicultural NSW.

The prizes are the latest accolades for the 2012 work, which last year received the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction.

It’s the Sydney-based author’s second Christina Stead Prize, following on from her 2008 award for The Lost Dog.

Questions of Travel, her fourth novel, explores the old axiom that travel is good for you. It follows the lives of two protagonists, Sydney-based Laura, a believer in the transformative power of travel, who now finds herself touring the planet via computer as a travel guide publisher; and Sri Lankan Ravi, who finds himself in Sydney having been driven from his homeland by cataclysmic events.

The judges complimented the “grand scale” of the book’s theme – travel, work, communication, love and loneliness – and the “exquisite mastery of language, imagery and detail”.

“Almost every sentence has an original insight that invites us to look afresh at familiar places and idea,” they said.

“Among much else, Michelle de Kretser’s novel weighs the personal cost of the search any new and further identity, as much as it points to the random outcomes that may lie at journey’s end.”

$275,000 was shared among the 12 prizes, including $30,000 to Kris Mrksa for the script to the two-part ABC TV series Devil’s Dust, about the late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton.

Veteran Australian writer Rodney Hall, author of 18 books and 14 poetry collections, received a special $10,000 award for lifetime contribution with the judges saying it was “in recognition not only of his prodigious output and the quality of his body of work, but in gratitude for his support of Australian authors”.

The 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards winners are:

Book of the Year: Questions Of Travel, Michelle de Kretser

Christina Stead Prize: Questions Of Travel, Michelle de Kretser

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing: The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane

Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction (joint winners): Boy Lost: A Family Memoir, Kristina Olsson; Rendezvous With Destiny, Michael Fullilove

Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry: Novelties, Fiona Hile

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature: The Girl Who Brought Mischief, Katrina Nannestad

Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature: Zac And Mia, AJ Betts

Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting: Devil’s Dust, Kris Mrksa

Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting: Muff, Van Badham

Community Relations Commission Award for a Multicultural NSW Award (joint winners): Questions Of Travel, Michelle de Kretser; The Secret River, Andrew Bovell (adapted for stage from Kate Grenville’s novel).

People’s Choice: The Railwayman’s Wife, Ashley Hay

Special Award for lifetime contribution: Rodney Hall

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