ASA 2021 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship shortlist

2021 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship Shortlist 

The Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship is worth $20,000 and is offered annually to an Australian author to provide them with valuable time to work on a current manuscript. It is offered by the Blake-Beckett Trust, thanks to the generosity of one of our long-term members and supporters, Wendy Beckett.

This year’s applications were assessed by Nigel Featherstone and Peggy Frew, who selected the four shortlisted applicants:

  • Michelle Aung Thin
  • Kate Holden
  • Gretchen Shirm
  • Laura Elizabeth Woollett
The winner of the 2021 Scholarship will be announced on 15 December 2021.
Assessor Comments

Michelle Aung Thin’s The Japanese Photographer crackles with energy and promise. The author’s long-term fascination and in-depth engagement with her subject matter – the historical and ongoing complexity of Yangon/Rangoon – is evident, and the writing is highly accessible, clear and immediate.

Kate Holden’s The Sin Eater is a refreshingly ambitious project with an incredible idea at its core. Holden is clearly a significant Australian writer and the extract is very fine indeed, displaying an adventurous spirit.

In Giants, Gretchen Shirm uses her lived experience of working as in intern at the United Nations to write a war-crimes novel, which has the potential to be a significant addition to Australian and world literature. The application is very clear in purpose, and the extract shows a work that is already at an advanced stage of development.

In West Girls, Laura Woollett maps an international novel-in-stories, informed by her own experience growing up Anglo-Maltese-Indonesian in Western Australia. Woollett’s scope is ambitious and her prose is close, daring and super sharp, with moment of delicious, awkward humour.

About the Assessors

Nigel Featherstone

Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer who has been published widely. His war novel, BODIES OF MEN, was published by Hachette Australia in 2019. It was longlisted for the 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize, runner-up for the 2020 ACT Book of the Year, shortlisted in the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards, and received a 2019 Canberra Critics Circle Award. Nigel’s new novel, MY HEART IS A LITTLE WILD THING, will be published by Ultimo Press in May 2022. Nigel also writes for the stage, as well as short fiction, criticism and creative non-fiction, with work appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Canberra Times, Meanjin, and the Chicago Quarterly Review, among other outlets.

Peggy Frew

Peggy Frew is a writer and musician who lives in Melbourne. Her work has been published in The Age, Kill Your Darlings, Meanjin, Qantas Magazine, NGV Magazine and The Big Issue. She was the winner of The Age short story competition in 2008. Her first novel, House of Sticks(2011, Scribe), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer, and was shortlisted for the UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing. Hope Farm, her second novel (2015, Scribe), won the Barbara Jefferis Award, was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her third novel Islands (2019, Allen and Unwin), was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.