In a double burst of good news, Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright has been awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction, while Iman Mersal’s Traces of Enayat received the James Tait Black Prize for Biography.

The judges described Praiseworthy as a ‘brilliant and experimental work of fiction that stretches the boundaries of the novel form in new and exciting ways. Engaged with matters of climate and justice, Praiseworthy’s innovativeness is matched only by its timeliness.’ Of Traces of Enayat, the biography judges found it to be ‘utterly absorbing: formally inventive and reflective in its fusion of biographical approaches into a form all its own, it is a profound work of recovery and appreciation, beautifully attentive to the elusive, and deeply moving in its evocation of Enayat al-Zayyat’s life’, praising Robin Moger’s ‘translation of great tonal and narrative integrity … even as the book traverses different forms and registers.’ This win for Praiseworthy follows Wright being awarded the 2024 Stella Prize, Australia’s premier prize for women and non-binary authors, a few weeks ago. In winning the Stella for Praiseworthy, Wright became the first author to win the award twice, having previously received it in 2018 for Tracker, her collective biography of Aboriginal leader Tracker Tilmouth, which we plan to publish in 2025. Praiseworthy is currently shortlisted for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award and was the winner of the 2023 Queensland Award for Literary Fiction.

The award of the James Tait Black Prize to Traces of Enayat also marks a significant milestone in the history of the award: the Prizes were opened to translations into English in 2021, and Traces of Enayat is the first title in its history to have been offered the award under these terms. The James Tait Black Prizes, first awarded in 1919, are presented by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures. The Prizes are Britain’s longest-running literary awards.

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