At a ceremony at The Northern Territory Parliament earlier today Gerry McCarthy MLA awarded the 2010 NT Book of the Year award for 2010 to Marie Munkara for her first novel “Every Secret Thing“, published by UQP in 2009.

This is on top of Marie winning the 2008 David Unaipon Award.

Late last year I published a two part interview with Marie – you can read them for your self here and here.

The judges this year were Gail Jones (Sixty Lights, Dreams of Speaking, Sorry), Steve Grimwade (Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival), Yvette Holt (University of Queensland lecturer and poet), Mark McLeod (acclaimed publisher of children’s literature) and Sandra Thibodeaux (poet, playwright and the Executive Officer of the NT Writers Centre).

Marie won it from a pretty tight field of six:

Cassie by Barry Jonsberg

Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara

Listen Deeply, let these stories in by Kathleen Kemarre Wallace and Judy Lovell

My Private Pectus by Shane Thamm

The Devil you Know by Leonie Norrington

The Red Highway by Nicolas Rothwell

Panel member and Professor of Writing, Gail Jones said of Every Secret Thing:

‘Like Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, this is a landmark text in indigenous writing. It is a work of immense spirit, ingenuity and narrative confidence,’ said Jones says of Every Secret Thing.

‘Set on a mission in the Northern Territory, Every Secret Thing examines with wise and witty irreverence the collision of Catholic and indigenous cultures, figured here as a drama of comic misunderstandings between the Mission Mob and the Bush Mob.

‘There is a beautiful humanity to both the characters and the tale and all is encompassed in brilliant humour, canny observations and a splendidly clever social vision.

‘Particularly impressive is the way in which the political intelligence of the novel – regarding important matters like cultural depredation, stolen generations and sexual abuse – are told not in the mode of elegy but through an understanding of spiritual and cultural resistance. It is a robust and audacious critique of white incursion, but also a celebration of the solidarity, joy, community and vigour that persists with spiritual integrity in Aboriginal communities.’

The Judges comments on Every Secret Thing include:

‘…Bold and important. This is a book that has the potential to change the course of things. A different and original voice. …Subversive and refreshing.’

Sandra Thibodeaux.

‘…An audacious, witty critique of the role of Mission Mobs in Aboriginal communities, written with largesse of spirit, bawdy good

humour and clever and circumspect political wisdom.’

Gail Jones

‘Rich with originality, warmth … leaves an imprint on your mind long after you have closed the book. Marie has written a strong, funny and beautiful book without pity or shame .. a writer brave enough to reveal her raw-self, marrow and all.’

Yvette Holt

Congratulations to Marie – and her family – on winning this richly deserved award. By all accounts at least one of the other authors thought that they had the prize in the bag – and was somewhat crestfallen when Marie walked away with the goods.