Rod Moss wins Prime Minister’s literary award

By JACQUIE CHLANDA in Canberra

and ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Hard Light of Day by Alice Springs author Rod Moss today won the Prime Minister’s non-fiction award worth $80,000 and the huge prestige attached to it.

The book chronicles the lives of Aboriginal people at the White Gate community, a squat on the eastern edge of town.

Mr Moss (pictured above at White Gate) was at the National Gallery in Canberra to receive the award from Ms Gillard.

He spoke to the Alice Springs News minutes later.

“I’m just a bit bewildered,” he said. “I’m in esteemed company. I’m one of them now, apparently.

“I don’t think I’m suffering any chemical imbalance but if feels unreal.

“I’m a stranger, an outsider here, surrounded by other writers with their own coteries of literary people.”

Did he shake the Prime Minister’s hand?

“Yes, she has a warm little mitt. She has a capacity for mingling. Her speech felt very genuine.”

Mr Moss said neither Ms Gillard nor Arts Minister Simon Crean referred in their speeches to the contents of the books winning awards or short-listed.

Mr Moss is a teacher, noted painter and long-time resident of Alice Springs.

He says “part two is happening already,” a continuation of the subject from where the book left off in 1998 “to last week”.

This was prompted by the response to the book, previously culminating in the Chief Minister’s NT Book of the Year award earlier this year.

But the sequel may “not see the hard light of day,” he quipped.

Judges Brian Johns AO, Colin Steele and Dr Faye Sutherland say in their comments the book “draws a picture of Aboriginal Australians living in The Centre that we have rarely experienced on such a moving level.

“Rod Moss, with unflinching, knowing vision, reveals the harsh realities of the day to day lives of Aboriginals with devastating force and insight.

“Nothing is spared – the pain of chronic ill health, the alcoholism, the mutual violence, the aimlessness of the dislocated and the impoverished.”

They say the book is enriched by Moss’ paintings and photographs.

The author’s friendship with tribal elder Arranye “is the spiritual backbone of the book, starkly realistic, yet both enriching and encouraging, transcending the often desperate circumstances.

“There is humor and there is hope,” the judges say.

 

25 years of love and anguish: Review of the book by KIERAN FINNANE

White Gate residents: We will not go, it’s home. By KIERAN FINNANE.

 

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