Australian playwright Kendall Feaver has continued her winning streak with her play The Almighty Sometimes, taking home the $30,000 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting at the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Kendall FeaverKendall Feaver. Photograph supplied

The drama also won the $25,000 Prize for Drama at the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in February. The Almighty Sometimes, which is Feaver’s debut play, premiered at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in February last year and played at Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney in August 2018.

Winner of the Judges’ Award in the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting (UK), it won Best New Play at the 2018 UK Theatre Awards, and a nomination for Best Writer in the UK’s The Stage Debut Awards. Last December, Feaver was named as the recipient of the 2018 Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights, for which she received a $15,300 commission to create a new work.

The Almighty Sometimes centres on a young woman who has been medicated for a range of mood and behavioural disorders since she was a child. Now she wants to find out what her life would be like without pills and prescriptions.  The knotty, gritty play takes an unflinching look at mental illness and medication among young people.

Hannah Waterman and Brenna Harding in the Griffin Theatre Company production of The Almighty Sometimes. Photograph © Brett Boardman

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards , which were established in 1979. The total prize money in 2019, including sponsored awards, is $305,000.

Historian Billy Griffiths won Book of the Year for Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, which was also a joint winner of the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction. The book begins in the mid-1950s, with an archaeologist called John Mulvaney working in South Australia, then moves back in time to Australia’s prehistory.

Griffiths shared the $40,000 Non-Fiction prize with Sarah Krasnostein for her award-winning biography of Sandra Pankhurst, The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay and Disaster.

Michelle de Kretser won the $40,000 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for her novel The Life to Come, which has already won the Miles Franklin and been shortlisted for the Stella Prize, while Trent Dalton took home the $5000 debut prize for new writing for his best-selling novel Boy Swallows Universe.

The judges presented a $10,000 special award to Iranian-Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani for No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, which won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature. Poet Les Murray, a two-time winner of the NSW Premier’s Award for poetry, who died on Monday at the age of 80, was also honoured at the awards ceremony.

For a full list of awards see below.


Book of the Year ($10,000)
Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia by Billy Griffiths (Black Inc. Books)

Christina Stead Prize for Fiction ($40,000)
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin)

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing ($5,000)
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Publishers)

Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction ($40,000) (joint winners)
Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia by Billy Griffiths (Black Inc. Books)
The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing)

Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry ($30,000)
Interval by Judith Bishop (UQP)

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000) (joint winners)
Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood (UQP)
Dingo by Claire Saxby and Tannya Harricks (Walker Books Australia)

Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature ($30,000)
Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough (Hardie Grant Egmont)

Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting ($30,000)
The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver (Currency Press)

Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting ($30,000)
Jirga by Benjamin Gilmour (Felix Media)

Multicultural NSW Award ($20,000)
The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Hachette Australia)

NSW Premier’s Translation Prize ($30,000)
Alison Entrekin

Special Award ($10,000)
No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani