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2022 Chief Minister's NT Book Awards

The Chief Minister’s NT Book Awards shine a light on the talent, originality, and flair of writers in the NT. Started by the NT Writers’ Centre in 2009, and originally called Territory Read, the Awards have celebrated excellence amongst published authors residing in the NT for over a decade. Rachael McGuirk from NT Writers’ Centre reveals this year’s winners!

Best Fiction
Return to Dust

A philosophical tale about coming to terms with grief, Dani Powell’s debut novel Return to Dust has taken out the best fiction of the year with storytelling that judges have described as “gentle”, “respectful” and “evocative.” Through the central character of Amber, who returns home to the desert after the loss of her brother, Return to Dust takes the reader on a journey through the many layers and inseparable elements of life and death in remote Indigenous Australia.

Powell’s prose draws on memory and metaphor, and brings to life the allure and vibrance of the Western Desert landscape, even in the contrast of passing. An honest, lyrical piece of storytelling from a writer who is connected to all that surrounds her, Return to Dust is a worthy winner and a must-readacross the country.

Best NonFiction
Peace Crimes: Pine Gap, National Security and Dissent

In the centre of Australia lies a guarded and secretive military facility referred to as Pine Gap. Journalist Kieran Finnane explores what happens when six nonviolent activists, known as the Peace Pilgrims, are arrested for stepping through the fence that surrounds Pine Gap to pray for the dead of war. We’re taken on a journey of local events and the legal aftermath as the Crown deems the Peace Pilgrims to be a threat to national security under harsh Cold War legislation.

Peace Crimes: Pine Gap, national security and dissent asks of all of us, what responsibilities do we have as Australians for the covert military operations of Pine Gap? Described this year’s judges as “quietly shocking … a must read for anyone who is concerned about foreign interests and governments with hidden agendas.”

Best Children's/Young Adult
Tjanimaku Tjukurpa: How One Young Man Came Good

Developed by the senior Anangu men of the NPY Women’s Council Uti Kulintaku Watiku (Men’s) Group, with beautiful illustrations by Jan Bauer, Tjanimaku Tjukurpa: How one young man came good is a book about mental health, hope and healing through connection to family and country. Told through the eyes of his grandfather, the book tells the story of a young man Tjanima who lost his way, but with love and care from his grandfather came back from the edge.

The judges noted this work as one of “deep wisdom” by senior Anangu men who care deeply about young men growing up across the NPY lands without violence. The judges said the book is a “seamless combinationof Indigenous knowledgesand storytelling,” and a book that “not only explores Indigenous issues and solutions from an Indigenous perspective, it also inspires hope.”


Thumbnail: Paz Tassone

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