Wanted: Sponsor for an Antipodean Orange Prize

A group of Australian women writers and publishers are seeking a sponsor for a proposed literary prize for fiction by Australian women writers. Sophie Cunningham, Kirsten Tranter, Louise Swinn, Monica Dux, Jenny Niven, Aviva Tuffield from Scribe Publishing, Rebecca Starford, Jo Case and Chris Gordon from Readings have formed a steering committee to establish the award - equivalent to the UK’s Orange Prize - which has a working title A Prize of One’s Own.

In an interview in the Guardian, novelist and publisher Sophie Cunningham said the committee was talking to sponsors. “What we want to achieve is a prize that brings more readers to novels by women, and respects and rewards the work of women writers,” she said. “Women continue to be marginalised in our culture. Their words are deemed less interesting, less knowledgeable, less well formed, less worldly, and less worthy.” Not only have the Miles Franklin Award shortlists been exclusively male twice in the last three years, several state premier’s literary award shortlists also excluded women. What’s more, although in overall terms publishing is dominated by women, the highest levels of the industry continue to be mostly male. The committee is hoping the inaugural women’s prize will be held in 2012 or 2013.

The Wheeler Centre’s next Talking Point is ‘Banging on the Ceiling’, Thursday May 12 at 6:15pm.

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