The Asher Literary Award was offered for the first time in 2005 in collaboration with the Literature Board of the Australia Council. This award has been made possible by a generous bequest from Mrs Helen Waltraud Rosalie Asher. Helen Asher was a writer (she also used the name Helen Ulrich) and published one novel, Tilly’s Fortunes (Penguin, 1986), and some other shorter works of fiction which appeared in various anthologies.
Helen Asher was a post-WWII German refugee from fascism. Along with her husband Mervyn, she was deeply committed to the artistic and cultural life of their adoptive country, Australia, and both were active in literary circles in Sydney.
Mrs Asher specified that the bequest be directed solely to the creation of an award to be won or received by a female author of a literary work which carries an anti-war message or theme.
The shortlisted titles are:
- Swamplands (Van Badham, play)
- Tales from a Mountain City (Quynh Dao, Odyssey Books)
- Ruin (Roberta Lowing, Interactive Press)
- Pirate Rain (Jennifer Maiden, Giramondo)
- The Old School (P M Newton, Penguin)
The winner of this year’s award, worth $10,000, will be announced on 2 September at the Melbourne Writers Festival.