What the judges said about Unforgotten: NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2013

The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2013 were presented at a dinner held at the State Library of NSW in May. The judges’ comments for each finalist book were printed in the program for the evening. Following is what the judges said about Unforgotten. They offer a thoughtful perspective on the book.

“Angels sweep into urban areas, white-winged creatures one might glimpse at first as a flicker, blink or flash. They have come, we learn, ‘to watch over, to warm and to mend’. In his startlingly beautiful picture book Unforgotten, Tohby Riddle conjures up light, vulnerable creatures seen against mostly stark urban backgrounds. Here, the darkness does not signify a dark side but rather enlivens our curiosity  and then sympathy. One angle creature falls to earth and gradualy roles are reversed as the watching, warming and mending becomes the responsibility of others.

Sombre tones are used in the collage of photo and artwork, so the intrusion of colour is arresting – the blueness of sky, the blood redness of war, the russet goldenness of autumn, the whiteness of snow. Spare text and stunningly detailed artwork leave room for the reader’s interpretation and imagination as we wrestle with the polarities of light and dark, of doubt and faith, of kindness or indifference, even as we enjoy a wry smile at the human condition. There is a quiet beauty and calm about this book which makes it not so much a hymn to life as a hymn to some of the mysteries of life. Unforgotten bids the reader to remember empathy, kindness and compassion but also to remember the mysteries of the life of the mind.”

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2013 Program

'Waratah' by James Sowerby, 1793. Featured in PLA Program.

‘Waratah’ by James Sowerby, 1793.
Featured in PLA Program.