2019 prize winner – Janette Chen

The winner of the 2019 Deborah Cass Prize for migrant writing is Janette Chen, for her story ‘Wall of Men.  

Runners-up are Anna Kortschak for her story ‘Pieces of Nothing and Belinda Paxton for ‘Clinging to Space Hardware.

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Janette Chen, winner of the 2019 Deborah Cass Prize for Writing (photograph – David Patston)

Judges Melanie Cheng and Lee Kofman praised Janette (pictured) for her “mastery of the short story form, including her capacity to write a good ending, something that can be hard to do in short stories”. One judge said, “there are too many earnest works published in Australia. An effortless sense of humour permeates this story, as well as a complex sense of psychology and of a woman’s sexuality.”  

The judges cited Anna Kortschak’s “poetic and distinct voice. She has a really rich story to tell, which she approaches from a lot of interesting angles.”   They also praised Belinda Paxton’s rich and poetic prose, innovative structure, avoidance of cliché and the situating of her story in an arresting historical context.

The Deborah Cass Prize committee is delighted to announce this year’s winners and thanks every writer who submitted an entry to the fifth Prize. We also thank you for supporting this endeavour to bring new voices into the Australian writing landscape.

View images from the 2019 Deborah Cass Prize for Writing Ceremony held at the Abbotsford Convent, 4 December. With thanks to guest speaker Maria Tumarkin, MC Melanie Cheng and photographer David Patston.

Janette Chen worked with mentor Roanna Gonsalves following her 2019 Deborah Cass Prize win.

Roanna Gonsalves was Janette Chen’s mentor in 2020.