AU$207,000 Literary Cash Prize in the Junk Mail!

Australian author Helen Garner won a cash prize worth $207,000 for her literary contribution, but she would not have known about it had she not checked her junk email folder.

According to, Garner initially did not believe the email from Yale University was genuine. The email stated there was good news for the recipient and they wanted to have a conversation with Garner over the phone. The author double checked the details with her publisher, which forced her to believe that she was awarded such a huge amount as Windham-Campbell gave this as a prize for her nonfiction work.

The main reason behind her disbelieving the email was that there was no need of submission of your work to get nominated for this prize. The only thing required is to have your work known to public. The authorities, besides sending an email, sometimes gives a call to the prize winners. “I nearly keeled over. I’m staggered. I feel thrilled and validated,” Garner told the Sydney Morning Herald after getting confirmation from her publisher.

The late novelist Donald Windham initiated the prize for literary works to recognise the contribution of writers. Every year, nine English writers are selected from a country for their literary achievements in different genres like drama, fiction and nonfiction.

Besides writing novels like “Monkey Grip” in 1977, Garner also writes essays and articles. Three of her nonfiction books have been published that highlighted her personal observations to disturbing court proceedings. These included “The First Stone” in 1995, “Joe Cinque’s Consolation” in 2004, and “This House of Grief” in 2014. “The fact that the prize is for nonfiction is the most gratifying part,” she said.

“Those books took a lot of skin off me, and over the past year, since This House of Grief came out, I concluded that there was something about the book that was not prize-worthy. It is shaming to care whether you win a prize or not, but something infantile is stirred in you.”

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