The PEN Keneally Award
In 2004, the Australian PEN Centres established a new biennial award recognising an achievement in promoting freedom of expression, international understanding and access to literature as expressed in the Charter of International PEN.
The award is named in honour of Thomas Keneally AO for ‘his lifetime’s commitment to the values of PEN’.
The Keneally Award is made possible through the generosity of Thomas Keneally AO and Random House Australia. Previous winners are:
On 22 July 2009, David Marr was presented with the 2009 Keneally Award. Marr, who first trained as a lawyer, has had a distinguished career as an author, journalist and broadcaster and, since 2004, has been based at the Sydney Morning Herald reporting on politics, law, the arts, human rights and censorship.
Throughout his career, Marr has been an advocate and champion of human rights and freedom of speech. In addition to writing for The Bulletin, he wrote for and later edited The National Times (1980-82) and, in 1985, became an investigative journalist on ABC Television’s ‘Four Corners’. David Marr was the first presenter of ABC Radio National’s now defunct ‘Arts Today’ program and, from 2002-04, he presented ABC Television’s ‘Media Watch’.
Marr has also had a distinguished literary career and is the author of a number of books including: Patrick White; Barwick (a biography of Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick); The Ivanov Trail (a study of the actions of ASIO culminating in the David Combe fiasco); and The High Price of Heaven (discussing the malign impact of religion on Australian politics). Marr’s 2004 book, Dark Victory (co-authored by Marion Wilkinson), told the story of the Australian government’s demonisation of the Tampa refugees in 2001. It was a major work of dissent about the racial hysteria of the times and, in 2007, it was followed by a Quarterly Essay entitled ‘His Master’s Voice: The Corruption of Public Debate Under Howard’.
Marr has written widely on censorship and its resurgence and, with others, formed a community organisation called Watch on Censorship. The aim of this organisation was to draw attention to new restrictions on the freedom of speech and to explore the politics behind them. In 2008, Marr also published The Henson Case, a forensic account of a great Australian moral panic.
Read David Marr's speech.
Frank Moorhouse AM
In March 2007, Frank Moorhouse AM won the 2007 PEN Keneally Award. The award recognised Moorhouse’s ‘exceptional contribution to the community of Australian writers’ and his role as an ‘outspoken advocate' on issues of freedom of expression and copyright reform both in Australia and overseas. The award also recognised his advocacy of free speech, from his 1960s anti-censorship stance (which put him in a jail cell for a few hours) to his recent Griffith Review essay entitled ‘Freedom of Expression in a Time of Terror’.
Moorhouse helped to establish, and became a director of, the Copyright Agency Limited, and is a past president of the Society of Authors. He is also author of 14 books including the winner of the Miles Franklin Prize, Dark Palace.
In response to receiving the award, Moorhouse told Susan Wyndham of the Sydney Morning Herald that ‘[i]t was a bit difficult for me to accept this award. The last one [the inaugural award in 2005] was given to Joesoef Isak for fighting for freedom of expression in Indonesia. He was put in jail for 10 years, beaten up and went underground. How can I, a privileged Australian, follow that?’ He went on to state that he would accept the award ‘because of the times we live in’, with the Australian government acting as a moral guardian with the power to ban books and films for the first time in 30 years.
The Keneally Award was given to Moorhouse at a reception co-hosted by intellectual property law firm Banki Haddock Fiora, the Copyright Agency Limited and Sydney PEN.
Joesoef Isak Wins
The recipient of the inaugural PEN Keneally Award was Joesoef Isak. Isak was an Indonesian publisher and translator who was imprisoned from 1967-1977, without charge or trial, in Indonesia and suffered years of intimidation for his work in publishing important literary works, including the novels of Pramoedya Ananta Toer.
The Award was presented to Isak by Chip Rolley, Chair of Sydney PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, and Thomas Keneally AO at a reception in Sydney on 31 March 2005. The reception was co-hosted by the Copyright Agency Limited and Sydney PEN.
Joesoef Isak died on 15 August 2009. Read his obituary in the Jakarta Globe.