Persistence pays off for Hungerford Award winner | City of Fremantle

News & Media

23 October 2020
Persistence pays off for Hungerford Award winner

Maria Papas has won the 2020 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award a decade after she made the shortlist for the first time around.

Papas’ manuscript I Belong to the Lake was announced as the winner of the prestigious literary award at a ceremony at Fremantle Arts Centre last night.

She takes home a $15,000 cash prize and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press.

The biennial prize is in its 30th year and is presented to an emerging Western Australian writer for their first full-length, unpublished work of fiction or narrative non-fiction.

I Belong to the Lake is a story about a family’s experience with childhood cancer and relates to the interactions, guilts and empathies between healthy and sick siblings over time.

Set in Lake Clifton, the novel is told from the perspectives of Grace who runs into Nate, who as teenagers were both sidelined and made to witness the progression of their siblings’ leukaemia.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the City had always been a huge supporter of the arts and was proud to support one of WA’s most esteemed literary awards.

“It has been a challenging year in many ways, and a time in which we have seen creative artists in particular struggle with their livelihood,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“So, the importance of awards like the Hungerford has become even more pronounced.

“A big congratulations to Maria; I look forward to seeing how the Hungerford Award will hopefully be a launch pad for bigger and better things. 

“I’m confident the other shortlisted authors, Sharron Booth and Joanna Morrison, will also go on to successful writing careers.

“It’s been so exciting to see the winner of the last Hungerford award – Holden Sheppard and his book Invisible Boys – go on to collect more awards and accolades and even a film and TV deal.”

Papas is no stranger to the thrill of making the Hungerford shortlist, having had her previous manuscript on the list in 2010.

She said she hoped her win would convince other writers to stay committed, keep learning and keep going.