The Walkley Foundation today announced the longlist for the Walkley Book Award, part of Australia’s most prestigious journalism accolades, the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
The Walkley Book Award celebrates Australian writers who take enduring subjects from news, eyewitness accounts, investigations and history. Their books bring readers immersive detail, clear analysis and new revelations.
Fifty-nine books were entered this year. Their subject matter ranged from true crime, politics and war to memoir, biography and investigative journalism.
Anna Clark’s Making Australian History (Vintage Australia/Penguin) was one of the nine books longlisted, and we extend huge congratulations to Anna and her publisher!
Making Australian History is bold and inclusive: it catalogues and contextualises changing readings of the past, it examines the increasingly problematic role of historians as national storytellers, and it incorporates the stories of people.
A few years ago Anna Clark saw a series of paintings on a sandstone cliff face in the Northern Territory. There were characteristic crosshatched images of fat barramundi and turtles, as well as sprayed handprints and several human figures with spears. Next to them was a long gun, painted with white ochre, an unmistakable image of the colonisers. Was this an Indigenous rendering of contact? A work of history?
Each piece of history has a message and context that depends on who wrote it and when. Australian history has swirled and contorted over the years: the history wars have embroiled historians, politicians and public commentators alike, while debates over historical fiction have been as divisive. History isn’t just about understanding what happened and why. It also reflects the persuasions, politics and prejudices of its authors. Each iteration of Australia’s national story reveals not only the past in question, but also the guiding concerns and perceptions of each generation of history makers.