ABR Calibre Prize winner Simon Tedeschi

Simon Tedeschi, a current student in the MA (Writing and Literature) has been announced as the winner of this year’s Australian Book Review Calibre Prize. 

The Calibre Essay Prize is one of the world’s leading prizes for a new essay and it is now worth a total of $7,500. The Calibre Essay Prize, then known as the Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, was first presented in 2007 to Elisabeth Holdsworth for her essay ‘An die Nachgeborenen: For Those Who Come After‘ as part of a joint initiative between ABR and Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. 

In his powerful essay, ‘This Woman My Grandmother’, distinguished classical musician Simon Tedeschi explores the story of his maternal grandmother, Lucy Gershwin, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The judges – Declan Fry, Beejay Silcox, and Peter Rose, Editor of ABR – chose the essay from a field of 569 entries from 17 different countries.

decade before she died, my grandmother Lucy, whose Hebrew name was Leah but who was known to us as Nanna, decided to write her memoirs. English wasn’t her first language, let alone her second or third, so rather than write she chose to speak. When she was finished, the contents of eight cassette tapes were typed up and bound in blue plastic covers. Copies were made for both daughters and all five grandchildren, of whom I am the eldest.

I promised Nanna that I would read her words as soon as I had my own copy, but I wasn’t being honest with her or myself. Reading for me has always entailed a kind of resistance. You bring your eyes, ears, and hands to the page, but the page brings something back, a wilful presence thick with the effrontery of an encounter. I was fifteen years old at the time and had nothing to give. …

The essay can be read in this month’s issue of ABR, or (for subscribers) online:


And here Simon reads his essay: https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/760-the-abr-podcast/9142-simon-tedeschi-reads-his-2022-calibre-prize-winning-essay-this-woman-my-grandmother-the-abr-podcast-103 

Simon Tedeschi is one of Australia’s most renowned classical pianists. He commenced piano studies when he was six and gave his first concerto performance at the age of eight, at the Sydney Opera House. He has performed with all the major Australian state orchestras, as well as many overseas, and he has released a number of recordings through Sony and ABC Classics.