Newcastle PhD student's debut novel shortlisted
University of Newcastle Creative Writing PhD graduate, Michael Sala, has had his debut novel well received with nominations for two respected book awards, including the prestigious international Commonwealth Book Prize.
The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel across the Commonwealth regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Michael 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.
The Last Thread has also been nominated for a UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing in this year's NSW Premier's Literary Awards.
The novel is a work of autobiographical fiction – Mr Sala's fascinating life in fiction. It starts with his early years in the Netherlands and moves to his experiences growing up in Australia during the 1980s. In it, Michael recalls the secret surrounding his estranged Greek father and the scandalous events from the past that fractured his family.
Another University of Newcastle PhD student, Ryan O'Neill, has also received a nomination for this year's NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Mr O'Neill has submitted his debut collection of short stories The Weight of a Human Heart and is in the running for the $5000 prize.
The UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing has a shortlist of just six authors annually, so it is remarkable for two writing students from the same university to be named in the same year.
Mr Sala and Mr O'Neill may be each other's competition for the Award but are also good friends.
"That is one of the great things about the University of Newcastle's creative writing courses. There are always other writers around willing to help you out. Ryan and I have been critiquing each other's work while doing our PhDs. We've been very supportive of each other as local writers," said Mr Sala.
The University of Newcastle's PhD in Creative Writing program has produced a growing list of acclaimed writers, including Patrick Cullen, Karen Hitchcock and David Kelly.
The Commonwealth Book Prize winner will be announced in May 2013. The NSW Premier's UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing winner will be announced in late May 2013.
- Nicole Guyder
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