Kill Your Darlings is delighted to announce Sam van Zweden as the winner of the 2019 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Van Zweden’s manuscript, Eating with My Mouth Open is a braided essay collection exploring the author’s relationship with food, family, memory, mental illness and body image. Read an extract here.

Sam van Zweden receives $4000 in prize money, donated by Kill Your Darlings. In September, van Zweden, along with the three other shortlisted authors for the award, spent a week at Varuna in the Blue Mountains as part of an intensive editorial program. This initiative was supported by the Copyright Agency.

‘I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be awarded this prize,’ says van Zweden. ‘I was lucky to spend a week at Varuna with KYD publishing director Rebecca Starford and my fellow shortlisted writers, and this experience was a fantastic development opportunity. I want to congratulate the other shortlisted writers for their incredible works, and thank them for their friendship and camaraderie throughout this process. This award provides invaluable recognition for a quiet and challenging work about body politics, food, body acceptance and mental health – it’s an underrepresented discussion in an underrepresented form. This award provides an important boost to my career. Thank you, KYD.’

KYD’s Rebecca Starford, 2018 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award winner Nicole McAlinden, and Allen & Unwin publisher Jane Palfreyman judged this year’s award.

‘I found van Zweden’s voice and her wide-ranging curiosity intelligent and engaging throughout, and very much admired her accomplished prose, lyricism and precision,’ says Palfreyman of Eating with My Mouth ​Open. ‘Her writing reminded me of Maggie Nelson’s work in its fragmented and poetic construction. I felt great empathy with Sam’s struggles with depression and self-harm, as well as her experiences navigating the mental health system and the overlap between physical and mental health.’

‘The storytelling is clear, linear and bold,’ says McAlinden. ‘Sam’s voice is strong and I was always drawn in. I found I was rallying for her, hoping that she can overcome the demons both within (emotional) and external (social) that perpetuate her struggle.’

For more details on this year’s shortlist, please click here.

KYD will announce details of the 2020 Unpublished Manuscript Award early next year. We thank Varuna and the Copyright Agency for supporting this initiative.