The Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers is a biennial Award dedicated to encouraging young Australian authors to achieve their dreams.

It was established in 1996 by the will of the late Kathleen Adele Mitchell. Her aim was to encourage “the advancement, improvement and betterment of Australian literature, to improve the educational style of the authors, and to provide them with additional amounts and thus enable them to improve their literary efforts”.

2008 Mitchell Winner

Randa Abdel-Fattah who has won the 2008 Award for her novel, Ten things i hate about me published by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Randa Abdel-Fattah's first novel, Does My Head Look Big in This? was an instant bestseller in Australia. She is a 26-year-old lawyer, born in Australia of Palestinian and Egyptian parents. For years Randa has been active in the inter-faith community, regularly giving talks at high schools, and is one of the original members of a Melbourne-Palestinian/Jewish women's friendship group. Over the years Randa has been a member of a number of Palestinian human rights campaigns, the Australian Arabic council and various Australian Muslim women networks. She lives in Sydney with her husband and baby daughter.

For this year’s award, the judging panel also selected Rohypnol, by Andrew Hutchinson (Vintage, Random House Australia) and The Gospel According to Luke, by Emily Maguire (Brandl & Schlesinger) for special commendation.

The Kathleen Mitchell Award 2008 judges were Susan Geason, Cameron Morley and Camilla Nelson.

Judges comments:

Ten things i hate about me, Randa Abdel-Fattah (Pan Macmillan Australia)
Randa Abdel-Fattah’s book stood out because she had a very clear idea of what she wanted to say about being a young Lebanese Muslim woman in Sydney’s western suburbs. Her writing style is perfectly suited to the form of the popular young adult novel and she tackled a number of tricky issues — teenage sexuality, family relations, politics and cultural identity —in an entertaining and stimulating way. Abdel-Fattah’s ability to tell a story with clarity and passion made her book the winner.

Rohypnol, by Andrew Hutchinson (Vintage, Random House Australia)
A blistering, almost terrifying novel about a ‘rape squad’ comprising mostly rich middle class schoolboys, who prowl the bars and nightclubs of affluent neighbourhoods in search of ‘targets’ to add to the growing list of young women they have drugged with Rohypnol, abducted and raped. A novel about social alienation, wrought in stark and pitiless prose, it paints a disturbing portrait of a nameless protagonist whose violence is without social cause or particular reason.

The Gospel According to Luke, by Emily Maguire (Brandl & Schlesinger)
Emily Maguire weaves a compelling love story into a narrative rich in social commentary. The novel probes the contradictions and similarities in the approaches of secular and religious organisations in helping the needy in our contemporary society. The motivations and emotions of the main protagonists are skilfully portrayed as they find common ground
despite wildly disparate beliefs.

Previous Winners

* 2006 Markus Zusak The Book Thief (Picador)
* 2004 Lucy Lehmann The Showgirl and the Brumby (Random House Australia)
* 2002 no award
* 2000 Julia Leigh The Hunter
* 1998 James Bradley Wrack
* 1996 Sonya Hartnett Sleeping Dogs

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