Emily Maguire named Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence

7 May 2018
Fellowship for creative writers to explore issues around health
Emily Maguire has been awarded the 2018 Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence Fellowship, receiving $100,000 and other benefits to support her work on a novel addressing the complex relationship between social identity and health.
Emily Maguire standing in the Charles Perkins Centre

Emily Maguire, author and 2018 Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence

Chosen from a shortlist of exceptional writers that included Heather Rose, Gabrielle Carey, Ceridwen Dovey and Kate Cole-Adams, Maguire thanked the Charles Perkins Centre for the opportunity and said she was excited to begin work.

“I can’t imagine a better place to develop my novel about hoarding, consumerism and illness, and to research the role family, social class and economic status play in it all,” Maguire said. 

Much of the Charles Perkins Centre’s work is directly relevant to my project, and the general atmosphere of the place – encouraging collaboration, creativity and conversation around the big issues – is a gift to any writer.
Emily Maguire

The Sydney-based author of five novels – including An Isolated Incident, shortlisted for the 2017 Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Literary Award – as well as two works of non-fiction and multiple essays and articles, will work from the Charles Perkins Centre on the University of Sydney’s Camperdown campus, with access to the University’s library and Centre researchers, educators and clinicians to help inform her work.

“I’m also very grateful for the generous financial support,” she added. “Such support is rare and precious and, for me at this point in my life and career, transformative.”

Inaugural Writer in Residence Charlotte Wood, who expects to complete her novel examining women and ageing this year, served as a judge of the 2018 fellowship. She congratulated Ms Maguire and urged her to take full advantage of the resources and collaborations available.

“Emily’s proposal was outstanding in its subtle and multi-layered approach to a deeply human story; it’s a perfect fit with the Charles Perkins Centre’s focus on finding new solutions to multi-faceted problems,” Wood said. “Emily’s creative interest in how class divisions play out within families, across generations and through our culture is sorely needed. She has an intuitive understanding of the competing influences on the way real people live, work, celebrate, suffer and love – something the health system often lacks.”

The warmth, intimacy and intellectual depth she brings to this terrain sets her apart from almost all her peers in Australian literature. With the support of the Centre, Emily is ideally placed to rigorously examine her subject from new perspectives and produce a novel of exceptional literary merit.
Charlotte Wood, author and inaugural Writer in Residence

Now in its third year, Charles Perkins Centre Academic Director Professor Stephen Simpson said the Writer in Residence Fellowship program had exceeded expectations.

“Researchers at the Charles Perkins Centre have valued the experience of working alongside such highly impressive writers, for what is clearly mutual benefit,” Professor Simpson said. “While the fellowship provides writers with an opportunity to probe the underlying causes and connections of some of our most serious health issues in a creative way, the writers have also challenged us to think about new ways of communicating our own work.

“We warmly welcome Emily to our writers in residence fold, joining esteemed colleagues Charlotte Wood, Mireille Juchau and Alana Valentine. We can’t wait to see how her work develops.”

Professor Simpson also congratulated the shortlisted authors, saying: “The calibre of their contributions made our judges’ decision a difficult one; we wish them all the best for their future endeavours.”

The Charles Perkins Centre Writer In Residence Fellowship is possible thanks to generous donations from alumna and patron Judy Harris. Recipients are supported to work on a project related to the issues the Centre is dedicated to addressing, such as health, wellbeing, food, ageing, social disadvantage and cultural identity.

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