The University of Newcastle, Australia

Graduate's debut novel wins two awards

Saturday, 1 February 2014

University of Newcastle creative writing PhD graduate Michael Sala Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize and the New South Wales Premier's Award for New Writing.

Michael Sala The Last Thread

University of Newcastle creative writing PhD graduate, Dr Michael Sala, can now add 'award winner' to his name after his debut novel, The Last Thread, was awarded both the Regional Winner (Pacific) of the Commonwealth Book Prize and also the NSW Premier's Award for New Writing.

"I've always felt that the best writing crosses international boundaries, and that has always been my ambition as a writer. To be acknowledged by the Commonwealth Book Prize so early in my career is incredibly exciting.

With such diversity and talent on the shortlist, I feel honoured and humbled to be selected as a regional winner. I can't thank the Commonwealth Book Prize enough for this wonderful opportunity to get my work out into the wider world," said Dr Sala.

Dr Sala, an academic in the School of Humanities and Social Science, is part of a growing list of Australian writers who have won this award. The Last Thread joins notable recent Regional award winners: Me and Mr Booker by Cory Taylor (2012), That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott (2011) and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (2009).

The NSW Premier's Literary Award has awarded Michael Sala a prize of $5,000 and an entry in the history books with notable past winners including writers Peter Carey, David Malouf AO, Elizabeth Jolley, Thomas Keneally AO and Helen Garner.

Dr Sala had no idea that his first novel, The Last Thread, would do so well. "It is more than I ever expected to achieve. I was thrilled to be published let alone recognised by these organisations," he said.

Dr Sala says his next challenge is to write a work of fiction.

"For me it's really about writing the stories; it's about the next story and just being passionate about that," he said.

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