The Deborah Cass Prize for Writing is now open for early-career writers of migrant background. The winner receives a cash prize of $3,000 plus a three-month mentorship with an established writer. The winning manuscript is presented to Black Inc. publishers for consideration, with the winning excerpt published in Mascara Literary Review. The award package is designed to help an early-career writer finish their manuscript and get their book published.
Deborah Cass (1960-2013) made significant contributions to legal scholarship, and focused on creative writing after retiring from her academic position. The Deborah Cass Prize was established in 2015 by Deborah’s friends and family. As the granddaughter of European refugees, the family felt that Deborah would like one of her legacies to be the nurture of writing talent in people whose voices would add fresh perspectives on Australian culture.
Now in its fifth year, the prize, which is administered by Writers Victoria, has already kick-started many successful literary careers among its winners and runners up.
Inaugural winner Moreno Giovannoni is featured in this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival with his widely acclaimed Fireflies of Autumn, published by Black Inc. According to Giovannoni, “I am convinced my book would not exist without the Deborah Cass Prize for Writing.”
The 2016 winner Jean Bachoura won a highly contested Next Chapter fellowship at the Wheeler Centre in 2018. The 2017 winner Rafeif Ismail has featured in Meet Me at the Intersection and We’ll Stand In That Place and Other Stories.
Among the prize’s runners up, Melanie Cheng’s short story collection Australia Day was awarded the Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, while Jessie Tu has just signed a publishing deal with Allen & Unwin for her novel, A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing.
“It is a fantastic achievement of the prize to be associated with so many published or soon-to-be published works in its short history,” says Angela Savage, director of Writers Victoria.
Dan Cass, brother of Deborah and Secretary of the Prize, said, “This is the fifth year of the Prize and we are proud to see it continue to enrich Australian literature by getting more migrant writers published.”
The 2019 prize will be judged by Melanie Cheng, Nyadol Nyuon and Lee Kofman.
Writers can apply online at Writers Victoria until the closing date, 9 September 2019 here.