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December 2010 Issue
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Adelaide novelist wins richest literary prize

Award-winning novelist and University of Adelaide staff member Eva Hornung has won the richest literary prize in Australia for her sixth novel, Dog Boy, described by judges as "a remarkable work of international standing".

Dr Hornung (formerly Sallis) has been awarded the $100,000 Prime Minister's Literary Award in the fiction category, impressing judges with her story of a young Russian boy who is adopted by a pack of wild dogs after being abandoned by his family.

It is the latest accolade for the University of Adelaide PhD graduate and Research Fellow, who has won a string of awards for her creative writing, including The Australian/Vogel Literary Award, the Nita May Dobbie Award, the Asher Literary Award and the Steele Rudd Literary Award.

Dr Hornung - who has both a Masters and PhD in English Literature from the University of Adelaide - supervises students in the Creative Writing program and was the University's first Writer-in-Residence in 2008.

Her previous novels include: Hiam, The City of Sealions, Mahjar, Fire Fire and The Marsh Birds.

Dog Boy is inspired by news reports of the capture of a street boy who lived with stray dogs in the Russian capital, Moscow. The book, published this year, has already been translated into 16 languages.

The judging panel praised Dr Hornung for her exploration of what it might like to be a dog from a human perspective, describing the novel as a "testing but triumphant feat of the imagination".

Dog Boy has been shortlisted for a number of other awards, including the Victorian Premier's Award for Fiction, the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and The Age Book of the Year, but was ineligible for the prestigious Miles Franklin Award, which is reserved for books that depict Australian life.

Among those shortlisted in the fiction category for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards was another University of Adelaide staff member, Dr John Coetzee, for his fictionalised memoir, Summertime. Dr Coetzee, who won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature and two Booker Prizes (1983 and 1999), is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

The Head of the English Discipline at the University of Adelaide, Dr Mandy Treagus, said Dog Boy had propelled Eva Hornung onto the world stage as an accomplished writer of extraordinary imagination.

"Her contribution to the Creative Writing program at Adelaide has been, and continues to be, significant," Dr Treagus said.

Story by Candy Gibson

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Novelist and staff member Eva Hornung

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