Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers: Judges’ report

Judges: Sally Dalton-Brown, Trinity College (Chair); Tony Birch, University of Melbourne; Jennifer Mills, Overland

This year, the second Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers attracted a high calibre of entries. The judges – Jennifer Mills of Overland, Tony Birch, University of Melbourne, and Sally Dalton-Brown, Trinity College – unanimously selected Marika Duczynski’s ‘Backa Bourke’ as the winner.

Duczynski’s story stood out for its strong voice and richly textured, energetic prose that knows when to withdraw. ‘Backa Bourke’ is a great example of the way short fiction can transmit deep empathy for its characters and offer readers a sense of a complete world beyond the story.

The judges also wished to commend two very strong runners-up: Ellen van Neerven’s ‘Cassettes’ takes a common experience and infuses it, in deceptively simple style, with the resonance of many kinds of loss; Jannali Jones’ ‘Ugly Duckling’ imagines the end of the world through an unlikely love story, and shows a writer willing to take risks.

Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills was Overland fiction editor between 2012 and 2018. Her latest novel, The Airways, is out through Picador.

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of Shadowboxing, Father’s Day, Blood, The Promise and Ghost River. He is currently research fellow in the Moondani Balluk Academic Centre at Victoria University.

Sally Dalton-Brown

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays