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Curtin Associate Professor Paul Genoni claims prestigious literary award

Media release

An Australian book co-authored by Associate Professor Paul Genoni has been named a winner at the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, where it triumphed in the non-fiction category.

Associate Professor Paul Genoni and Associate Professor Tanya Dalziell with their Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

The book, Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955 – 1964, was written by Associate Professor Paul Genoni, from Curtin’s School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, and Associate Professor Tanya Dalziell, from The University of Western Australia.

Published by Monash University Publishing, the book tells the story of the post-war international artist community that formed on the Greek island of Hydra. The community was established by the Australian literary couple, Charmian Clift and George Johnston, and most famously, it included renowned singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and his partner Marianne Ihlen, as well as numerous other artists and writers.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated Associate Professor Genoni on being recognised for his outstanding contribution to Australian literature.

“I am incredibly proud that this impressive literary work by Associate Professor Genoni has received a prestigious Prime Minister’s Literary Award,” Professor Terry said.

“Associate Professor Genoni’s passion for Australian stories is showcased in this book, which explores a fascinating chapter in history and shines a light on the rich lives of two post-war Australian literary exiles- George Johnston and Charmian Clift.”

Associate Professor Genoni said he was honoured to be recognised at the prestigious awards, alongside other renowned Australian authors.

“This award follows the sale of the film rights to Half the Perfect World to Cascade Films earlier this year, and caps off a year of great success for the book,” Associate Professor Genoni said.

“Tanya and I both felt the story had tremendous potential due to its memorable characters, and powerful personal tales that unfold in a stunning setting. It is also a story of a time and place that encapsulated the many disquiets around the transformations being wrought by post-war social and technological development.”

“That the characters also include iconic international artists such as Leonard Cohen simply adds to the broad appeal of the story.”

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise Australia’s literary talent across six categories including fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, young adult literature, children’s literature and poetry.

The winners were announced at an award ceremony hosted by Australian Prime Minister The Honourable Scott Morrison MP and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher.

More information on the awards can be found online here.