The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award is a $20,000 prize, presented to an author under the age of 35 for an unpublished manuscript.
We asked Emma what it was like to have won the Vogel - "I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition. I hope it can be a platform for me to discuss the themes of my book more broadly but also introduce me to people in this industry. Already the process has given me an opportunity to grow as a writer and author and I am looking forward to exploring what comes next."
Detailing the breakdown of a long-term relationship after one partner discloses to the other that they are transgender, Batchelor’s idea for the novel is based on her own partner’s transition from presenting as male to female.
"From the very beginning, I knew I would one day write about it, but it wasn’t until we separated that I had the time and space to do so,’ said Batchelor. ‘I took our actual letters and my journal entries and used them as a scaffold from which to build the story. It was also important to me not to speak for my partner or to tell her story."
Emma Batchelor - photo by Jesse Petrie
Vogel award judge and former literary editor of The Australian, Stephen Romei, described the novel as "a psychological masterclass in exploring why and how we become who we are and what that means for the people closest to us. This is a novel about love - of others and of self - and wants and needs and urges. The lovers at its centre have their own particular challenges, but deep down they could be any couple."
Hsu-Ming Teo, co-judge and 1999 winner of the award with her novel Love and Vertigo, commented "The story is an absorbing page-turner from the start, narrated in the first person with deceptive simplicity through a mix of diary entries, emails, to-do lists, and letters that contain enough variety to keep the narration fresh, and to keep driving the story forward. This is clever because it allows the narrator’s strong, direct voice to cut through, expressing her raw, real emotional upheaval and creating a persuasive impression of authenticity. The broader portrait of a relationship crumbling, and the questions raised about what it means to love, are things everyone can identify with."
The novel is split into three parts: Us, Them and Me, and told from the perspective of a female narrator over a period of 18 months.
"I always knew that I would write about what happened between my partner and I. As a partner of a person coming to terms with their gender identity and beginning transition, I often felt isolated and almost always felt as though my experience was secondary to that of her transition. That wasn’t either of our fault; the transition and what it brought up for each of us was all consuming and we handled it in quite different ways, often badly.
Together we had found stories and resources written by trans people for trans people which are vital but I struggled to find many that were written from my perspective or catering to me. In telling this story I wanted to share something that had the potential to be helpful but also create something that could help me process and understand what happened between us."
Now That I See You is available in store and online now.