Sunday, August 30, 2009

Author wins Button Prize for story of death in custody
by Kelsey Munro, in The Sydney Morning Herald, August 29, 2009

Chloe Hooper, left. … $20,000 award.
Photo: Penny Stephens

THE Melbourne writer Chloe Hooper has won the inaugural John Button Prize for her book The Tall Man, about the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island.
The $20,000 award for Australian public policy and political writing was announced at the Melbourne Writers Festival last night.
The judges, the former NSW premier Bob Carr, the ABC broadcaster Kerry O'Brien, the political scientist Judith Brett, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee and the Miles Franklin Award judge Morag Fraser, settled on The Tall Man (Penguin) from a long-list of 31 books and essays on public policy and politics.

Coetzee said in a statement: "It is a very good book. Everything she tried to do she did well."
After the judging Fraser told the Herald, "We were looking for extremely fine writing which had political impact and breadth."
Of Ms Hooper's book she said: "It was a very brave piece of research that gave a strong sense of what it was like to be inside fractured communities."
O'Brien praised Hooper's use of fictional techniques in a "journalistic exercise".
"She made a subject that a lot of people had given up on as too hard, live again," he said.

The prize commemorates the life of the politician and writer John Button, who died last year. In his retirement he wrote three books on politics and a Premier's Prize-winning Quarterly Essay on the Labor Party.

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