Community meets philanthropy for Waverley’s Nib Literary Award

Read more books, support writers, and be positive with your feedback, say the principal sponsors of the Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award, one of Australia’s most valuable book prizes.

Since 2002, Sydney’s Waverley Council has presented a major prize for Australian literature, commonly known as “the Nib” Open to Australian authors working in any genre, fiction or non-fiction, the prize favours books with high literary merit and a strong research focus.

Since its inception (it was originally known as The Waverley Library Award for Literature) the Nib has distributed more than $500,000 directly to authors, with previous winners including Helen Garner, Gideon Haigh, Clare Wright and Delia Falconer – who has won twice, including in 2022 for her book of essays, Signs and Wonders.

Now, in 2023, the main prize – the Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award – has been doubled from $20,000 to $40,000, bringing it in line with the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

Talking together to ArtsHub, Mark and Evette Moran say:

‘Australian authors work so hard, often putting years and years into researching and writing one book, with so little recognition, and we wanted to offer them more support.’

The married couple, who are also best friends, co-founded the award-winning Mark Moran Group, an international leader in elder care, while also engaging in their lifelong passion for the arts (Mark has been CEO of the Moran Art Prizes for the last 25 years).

They first became involved with the Nib as patrons in 2014, sponsoring the People’s Choice Prize, and in 2017 increased support and added their names to the major prize.

Asked why, of all the philanthropic requests they receive, they decided to support the Nib Award, Mark Moran says the catalyst was being approached by Waverley Council – his own local council covering Sydney’s eastern coastal suburbs – and seeing the award was in danger of ‘collapsing’.

‘Sometimes you make decisions in life based upon a moment in time, as much as anything else. We knew of the award already, and thought it was a very worthwhile support of Australian writers and literature. We thought it was important the award was kept going – that the good work of the Council was sustained.’

Evette Moran adds, ‘We love reading, and we love books – the way they take you into other worlds. Kindle is fine, but we love the physical objects too, the look and feel of them. We know Australian authors put their heart and soul into writing their books, and we wanted to celebrate authors and maybe make their lives a little bit easier with this increase in the prize money.’

The Morans say they feel ‘honoured to play a small part in the lives of our extraordinary writers’.

The 2023 Nib Award

The 2023 Nib Award was open to written works published between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, and could be submitted by individual authors or their publishers. The independent judging panel includes poet Jamie Grant, writer and novelist Katerina Cosgrove and publisher Julia Carlomagno.

The longlist was announced on 31 July, and the shortlist of the six finalists for the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award ($40,000) was announced on 4 September 2023. 

The six finalists for the 2023 Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award are:

  • An Intimate History of Evolution: The Story of the Huxley Family by Alison Bashford (Allen Lane) 
  • Anam by André Dao (Hamish Hamilton) 
  • Emperors in Lilliput by Jim Davidson (The Miegunyah Press) 
  • The Age of Seeds by Fiona McMillian-Webster (Thames & Hudson Australia) 
  • Life So Full of Promise: further biographies of Australia’s lost generation by Ross McMullin (Scribe Publications) 
  • Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life by Brigitta Olubas (Virago) 

Finalists each receive the Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize ($1500) and are eligible for the Nib People’s Choice Prize ($4000) and the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award ($40,000). 

Winners of the two major categories will be announced at a free public event at Bondi Pavilion on 9 November 2023.

Mark and Evette Moran say they hope the public will really engage now with reading and voting for this year’s Nib People’s Choice Prize during the month-long online public voting campaign until 4 October.

‘There’s something for everyone. Try reading something you might not normally read. Branch out a bit and you may be surprised. Buy the books, read them and support the writers with positivity.’

Find out more and vote for the Nib People’s Choice Prize.

The Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award is presented annually by Waverley Council with support from Principal Sponsors Mark and Evette Moran, and community partner Gertrude and Alice Bookshop and Café. Winners will be announced at a free ticketed public event at Bondi Pavilion on 9 November 2023.

Rochelle Siemienowicz is the ArtsHub Group's Education and Career Editor. She is a journalist for Screenhub and is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. Her second book, Double Happiness, a novel, will be published by Midnight Sun in 2024. Instagram: @Rochelle_Rochelle Twitter: @Milan2Pinsk