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"The story told so gently and evocatively in Alfred’s War is one of national significance – the unacknowledged military service of Aboriginal men in the First World War. Despite the subject, the first-time writer handles the content deftly – evoking the bitter peacetime experience of many returned black soldiers."
Of the shortlisting, Rachel Bin Salleh, said:
“I am humbled to be shortlisted alongside Melissa Lucashenko and Tony Birch, and would like to thank all those who have supported Alfred’s War, especially Magabala Books. I want to thank Sam Fry for her faith in the making of this book, her beautiful talent and for being Alfred’s shining star. To all those who fought and were forgotten, this is for you and your legacy. May you always be remembered."
Samantha Fry, Alfred's War illustrator, said:
“I am so incredibly happy that Alfred's War has been shortlisted, what a wonderful achievement for our book, it makes me very proud."
Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is shortlisted for the 2020 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature. A seminal book, opening hearts and minds across Australia, the judges comments reflect the significant impact of this work for young readers:
"Young Dark Emu is an illuminating and important non-fiction work for children. It is meticulously researched, and beautifully designed and compiled. The work highlights and challenges the whitewashing of Australian history, centring Indigenous knowledge, and articulating vital – if inconvenient – truths."
Of the shortlisting Bruce Pascoe said:
“I am really pleased that a book about Aboriginal achievement has been recognised. I look forward to children reading it and then asking questions of the premise, and going to the bibliography. You don’t really know a subject until you have investigated it. I worked with exceptional designers, editors and educators on this book and I am in awe of their work. I think the book looks fabulous. Wish I’d had it at school on King Island.”
In selecting the shortlist twenty-nine judges considered 595 entries across 10 prize categories. 2020 Senior Judge, Jane McCredie, commented:
“This year's shortlists feature a dazzling array of stories from talented writers delving into Australian and universal themes. How we relate to each other and to a natural world in crisis, our fractured histories, our possible futures: no topic is too big or too challenging. I congratulate all the shortlisted writers on their extraordinary achievement.”
The 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards winners will be announced on 27 April. The full shortlist can be read here.