22 November 2019


Express Media and Deakin University are thrilled to announce the 2019 Deakin University Nonfiction Prize has been awarded to Adelaide-based writer, Olivia De Zilva.

De Zilva’s Let’s Eat食飯! impressed the judges with its ingenious weaving of culture and personal reflection within a beautifully versed commentary on the bonds that family share.

De Zilva said, “It feels great that a work inspired by my whacky family with pop-culture allusions to Neighbours, Gangsta’s Paradise and smiley fritz be acknowledged by a panel of esteemed judges. I hope that winning this award will allow me to explore my family’s story further in future writing.”

De Zilva wins $3000 and an editorial mentorship to develop her work with Managing Editor at Black Inc, Prize judge, and Express Media Board Member, Julia Carlomagno.

Carlomagno said, “Let’s Eat食飯! is marked by an original voice that’s funny, touching and charming. Drawing together elements of Chinese, Hong Kong and Australian culture, the result is a compelling and wildly entertaining family story. I can’t wait to see what Olivia writes next.”

Kat Capel was highly commended for their piece work & love.

Capel said, “I would like to thank Deakin and Express Media for their support of emerging writers and their affinity for diversity and risk taking, of which the shortlist is an example. I am honoured to be highly commended amongst such a talented pool of writers, thank you!”

Associate Professor in Writing and Literature at Deakin University, Maria Takolander, presented the 2019 Deakin University Nonfiction Prize in Geelong on Friday Night at the opening night of the Word For Word National Non-Fiction Festival, with Olivia reading an excerpt of ‘Let’s Eat食飯!’ ahead of Tyson Yunkaporta in conversation with Harriet Gaffney.

Earlier in the day, the shortlisted writers learnt from masterful writers Ruby Hamad and Hella Ibrahim in a day of professional development.

We congratulate Olivia and Kat and look forward to seeing their literary careers develop.