Classic Refugee Story wins CRC Literary Prize
The winner of the 2012 Community Relations Commission Prize at the Premier’s Literary Awards announced tonight has won unanimous praise from the judging panel for his treatment of “the consequences for families forced to flee to new societies under extremely traumatic international conditions.”
The winning entry is Good Living Street – The Fortunes of My Viennese Family by Tim Bonyhady.
The judges described the work as “a classic, landmark account of a very troubled historical background to a family’s arrival in Australia as refugees, and the many features and difficulties of adaptation and finding a place and a way to contribute to the new, free society in which it was fortunate to land”.
Congratulating the winner, the Chair of the Commission, Stepan Kerkyasharian, said: “This book which recounts a sad chapter in world history also has messages for today as we tussle with the issue of refugees travelling across the oceans in small boats.
“But the strength of the work is the way in which it clinically examines the challenges of settlement in a new land.
“Many of the themes of the family’s experience in Australia – acceptance of overseas qualifications, identity in a new country, religious affiliations, the sense of belonging elsewhere and alienation in the adopted land, and the relationships between the different members and generations of the family are splendidly covered by the author.
“Good Living Street meets precisely the guidelines for the CRC award, which require that it should have ‘made a contribution to Australian literature in its portrayal of the interaction of Australia’s diverse cultures and canvassed issues arising from the Australian immigration and migrant settlement experience’.
“This is definitely the kind of work our annual prize sets out to encourage,” Mr Kerkyasharian said.
The judges said: “The author of Good Living Street shows a special and rare facility to blend the historical record with literary perspectives”
The work tells of the departure of the Gallia family which, as members of the Jewish community, fled Vienna for Australia in 1938, following the German annexation of Austria.
It traces the sombre history of anti-Semitism in Austria and the turbulent events that caused over 50,000 Jews to flee from Austria under the Nazis. In its latter half, the book sensitively portrays the experience of a family of World War 2 Jewish refugees to Australia, and their response and adaption to the new land. ...2
The judging panel was comprised of Stepan Kerkyasharian, CRC Chair, John Nieuwenhuysen Foundation Director of the Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements and Mable Lee Adjunct Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Sydney
Tim Bonyhady also received The General History Prize ($15,000) of the 2012 NSW Premier's History Awards for the same book.
There were 17 entries for the CRC Prize.