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Ko Wins 2018 Deborah Cass Prize

Writer Karina Ko has won the 2018 Deborah Cass Prize for emerging writers from migrant backgrounds for her manuscript extract ‘Things I used to Believe’.

Chosen from a shortlist of eight, ‘Things I Used to Believe’ was announced as the winner on 5 December at an event in Melbourne.

Judges Christos Tsiolkas, Nyadol Nyuon and Tony Ayres described Ko’s story, a prose poem about the ghosts who stalk the lives of children and adults in a family divided between two cultures, as ‘coherent and captivating, the work of a natural writer’.

The judges also commended two runners-up: Emily Sun came second for ‘Maybe it’s Wanchai’ and Su-May Tan came third for ‘The Origin of Things’.

The judges said they thought this year’s finalists were the strongest of the four years of the prize’s existence. ‘Unlike in previous years, when the winners and finalists seemed clear-cut, this year, little separated the top seven or even eight stories,’ said the judges.

Ko receives $3000, a three-month mentorship with an established writer, and will be considered for publication by Black Inc.

The Deborah Cass Prize was established in 2015 to honour academic and writer Deborah Cass, who was the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants. Writers Victoria administers the application process and promotes the prize, which is awarded to an ‘early-career Victorian author who was born overseas or has at least one parent who was born overseas’. In 2017, the prize opened up eligibility to include writers from anywhere around the country.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, 2015 winner Moreno Giovannoni’s manuscript ‘Tales of San Ginese’ was acquired by Black Inc. for publication in 2018. Perth writer Rafeif Ismail won the 2017 prize for her manuscript ‘Almitra Amongst Ghosts’.

For more information about the award, see the website.

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