Furphy Literary Award win for Castlemaine author Cate Kennedy

Castlemaine author Cate Kennedy proudly accepts her award from Adam and Sam Furphy.
Castlemaine author Cate Kennedy proudly accepts her award from Adam and Sam Furphy.

Acclaimed Castlemaine writer and poet Cate Kennedy has won the 2022 Furphy Literary Award with her entry ‘Art and Life’.
The 2022 Furphy Literary Award was announced at a ceremony at the Shepparton Art Museum on Saturday evening.
As the winner of one of the richest short story writing prizes in Australia, Kennedy was awarded a $15,000 cash prize in addition to a residency at La Trobe University and publication in The Furphy Anthology 2022, which will be published later in the year.
With over 600 entries received, the highly-credentialled judging panel made up of Anson Cameron, Tara June Winch, Margaret Hickey, John Harms, Thornton McCamish and John Kerr had their work cut out for them. However, unusually, there was little debate about the standout entry for 2022.
Judges said of the winning story, “Cate’s ‘Art and Life’ had us smiling and nodding from the beginning. It’s so funny and insightful, so light of touch. We felt like we knew parents like that, and we knew pressured students like that. And the response of the young classical musician is brilliant. The story is totally engaging and entertaining and invites us to ask ourselves questions.”
Many locals would be familiar with Cate’s two previously published collections of short stories Dark Roots and Like A House on Fire which are on the Victorian Secondary School syllabus. She has also written a novel and three volumes of poetry. She works as a writing mentor and teacher and lives in Castlemaine with her daughter and a huge book collection.
Cate told the Mail was absolutely elated to win the award.
“I was shortlisted in 2020 and just loved the beautiful quality of the Furphy Anthology and what it represents as far as the Aussie tradition of storytelling and yarn spinning,” she said.
“I didn’t feel like I had anything which fitted the criteria in 2021, but I decided to have another go this year and was thrilled to be shortlisted again,” she said.
“Many people think writers enjoy sitting at home at their desk but it was joyous, euphoric to be at a gathering of others from my ‘tribe’ and to receive recognition for something I had created,” she said.
Cate said that it is getting out into the world where she gathers her ideas and inspiration.
“Short stories are the form I find myself returning to again and again – learning how to compress and distil my ideas, seeing ways to take the reader on a journey, reflecting on how the form brings out our instinctive storytelling powers to make each other laugh, cry and think,” she said.
The Furphy Literary Award is named in honour of Australian writer Joseph Furphy and celebrates Australian story telling in the short story format. Joseph Furphy was the author of a number of works written under the pen name Tom Collins – the most famous of which was ‘Such is Life’, published in 1903.
Shepparton is the historic home of the Furphy family and the location of the ongoing Furphy manufacturing companies, established in 1864.
Furphy Literary Award (FLA) director Sam Furphy said it is such a pleasure to put on this competition and provide this platform for writers to showcase their talents and tell a great story.
“From all corners of our wonderful country, we are so thrilled to receive so many high quality and diverse entries.”
FLA co-director Adam Furphy said whilst everyone likely has at least one good story in them, this competition and the accompanying annual anthology allows us all the opportunity to enjoy a curated distillation of these stories and the fine writing that brings them to life.
The 2022 Furphy Anthology featuring Cate’s work and the other 15 shortlisted stories is expected to hit bookstores just before Christmas.

Lisa Dennis
Editor of the Castlemaine Mail newspaper and senior journalist on our sister paper the Midland Express. Over the last 24 years Lisa been proudly reporting news in the Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges communities.