Maria Papas takes home the 2020 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award


Karrinyup author Maria Papas has tonight been announced the winner of the 2020 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award for her manuscript I Belong to the Lake. The win sees Papas take home a $15,000 cash prize and a coveted publishing contract with Fremantle Press. 

The Hungerford, is a biennial award, and in 2020 is celebrating its 30th year. It’s presented to an emerging West Australian writer for their first full-length, unpublished work of fiction or narrative non-fiction. The award is named for the widely admired and quintessential West Australian writer Tom (T.A.G.) Hungerford. Former winners include the Man Booker shortlisted author Gail Jones, Alice Nelson, Natasha Lester, and most recently Holden Sheppard. 

2020 is not Papas’ first foray into Hungerford shortlist either. Her previous manuscript was shortlisted back in 2010. Papas hopes her win will persuade others to stay committed to their work, to keep learning and to keep going. 

I Belong to the Lake is set in Lake Clifton, south of Mandurah, and told from the perspectives of Grace, a nurse, who runs into Nate, a boy whose family lived nearby. The connection they had as teenagers – both sidelined and made to witness the progression of their siblings’ leukaemia – is reaffirmed in adulthood. According to Fremantle Press publisher, and judge, Georgia Richter I Belong to the Lake:

“Explores a family’s experience of childhood leukaemia. It’s about the bond forged by two teenagers hovering on the periphery of their siblings’ illness and it captures some of those unseen long-term changes wrought in families affected by cancer.”

The shortlist for the Hungerford was three strong; and also featured Sharron Booth for The Silence of Water, and Joanna Morrison with her manuscript Still Dark. The three shortlisted titles were selected by the judging trio of Sisonke Msimang, Richard Rossiter and Brenda Walker, from over sixty manuscripts of varying form and genre. 

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.