01 Apr 2021

A Memoir to Award

AFTT’s Screenwriting and Directing Team Member Miro Bilbrough’s latest book, In the Time of the Manaroans, has been shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction at the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.


The NSW Government is committed to increasing public engagement with the arts. The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards provide an opportunity to highlight the importance of literacy and to encourage everyone to enjoy and learn from the work of our writers. These annual awards honour distinguished achievement by Australian writers, contribute to Australia’s artistic reputation, and draw international attention to some of our best writers and to the cultural environment that nurtures them.

Contemporary works by leading and emerging Australian writers have been shortlisted for the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, with thirty judges considering a record of 633 entries across 10 prize categories.

We are so proud to announce that our talented staff member Miro Bilbrough has been shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction for the publication of her memoir, In the Time of the Manaroans (2020).

Read the Synopsis for "In the Time of the Manaroans" Below

At fourteen, Miro falls out with the communist grandmother who has raised her since she was seven, and is sent to live with her father and his rural-hippy friends. It is 1978, Canvastown, New Zealand, and the Floodhouse is a dwelling of pre-industrial gifts and deficiencies set on the banks of the Wakamarina River, which routinely invades its rooms.

Isolated in rural poverty, the lives of Miro and her father and sister are radically enhanced by the Manaroans—charismatic hippies who use their house as a crash pad on journeys to and from a commune in a remote corner of the Marlborough Sounds.

Arriving by power of thumb, horseback and hooped canvas caravan, John of Saratoga, Eddie Fox, Jewels and company set about rearranging the lives and consciousness of the blasted family unit.

This idiosyncratic and engrossing narrative of adolescence in rural New Zealand during the 1970s and 1980s reveals the little-known history of the countercultural Back to the Land movement. Miro Bilbrough’s story is a deft demonstration of the possibilities of memoir as a literary genre.The relationship of the narrator to her subject, her younger self, is mapped with nuance and compassion.” NSW Premier Literary Award Judges’ Report 

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Winners will be announced online on the eve of the Sydney Writers’ Festival on Monday 26 April 2021 - Good Luck to Miro!

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To meet more of our Award-Winning Team Members, click here