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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 09:46 GMT
Australian writer wins book prize
Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville was inspired to write the novel by her own family history
Australian author Kate Grenville has won the 10,000 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for her novel The Secret River.

The award recognises the best fiction written in the Commonwealth in the English language.

Grenville's winning book is a historical novel looking at the competing claims of Aborigines and settlers in 19th Century Australia.

The award comes five years after Grenville won the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Idea of Perfection.

Grenville has said she got the idea for The Secret River while thinking about her own ancestors, who settled on land near Sydney.

Family history

"It began as this little niggling anxiety at the back of my mind - what did my great-great grandfather do when he met those Aboriginal people? Was he one of those settlers who got out his gun and shot them?

"Or was he one of the other kind, who tried to make peace?"

Guayanan writer Mark McWatt won the first book award for Suspended Sentences: Fictions of Atonement, a collection of stories about the throwing off of colonialism in Guyana.

The Commonwealth Writers' Prize also named regional winners, with UK author Zadie Smith winning the Eurasia section for On Beauty.

The Caribbean and Canadian best book was won by Lisa Moore for Alligator, while the Africa winner was Benjamin Kwakye of Ghana for The Sun by Night.

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