Odette Kelada wins the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

Dr Odette Kelada
Dr Odette Kelada

Dr Odette Kelada, Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Culture and Communication, has been awarded the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for her novel, Drawing Sybylla.

The prestigious award for an unpublished manuscript, presented to Dr Kelada on Saturday 25 February at the 2017 Perth Writers Festival, includes a cash prize of $10,000 and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing. The Award attracted 85 entries of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, which were judged by poet and niece of Dorothy Hewett, Lucy Dougan, critic James Ley, and UWA Publishing Director Terri-ann White.

Dr Kelada's novel, Drawing Sybylla, tells the story of real and imagined Australian women writers throughout the 20th century. Each woman is seemingly trapped, in different ways, by their gender and circumstance. Inspired by the seminal feminist short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, as well as the stream of consciousness works of Virginia Woolf, the interconnected stories are woven together through the poetic figure of a muse. The judging panel praised the novel as "an intense reading experience," remarking on the way it "wears its significant research very lightly and provides the reader with a tremendously original and imaginative set of pictures about the ideas of creativity and language usage in making stories." Drawing Sybylla will be published later in 2017.

Dr Kelada has a PhD in literature researching the lives of Australian women writers. Her writing focuses on marginalised voices, gender and racial literacy, and has appeared in numerous publications including the Australian Cultural History Journal, Outskirts, Postcolonial Studies and the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. Upon receiving the award, Dr Kelada said: "It's absolutely thrilling [to win the award] and I am very honoured. It's a big boost in confidence and to know that there are others who understand a story you've been working on and want to support it means the world."

The Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript was established in 2015 by UWA Publishing to support literary talent both in and related to Western Australia in response to the controversial changes to the WA Premier’s Book Awards announced earlier that year. It is funded by The Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Six entrants were shortlisted for the Award, and two were highly commended - Carolyn Abbs and Ann-Marie Priest.

Dorothy Hewett OAM (1923-2002) is considered one of Australia’s leading writers. A staunch feminist and longtime communist, Hewett gave voice to the marginalised and published many collections of poetry, plays and novels over her lifetime.

Congratulations to Dr Kelada from the Faculty of Arts.