There were several hundred entries to the notJack prize for ‘writing from place’ in 2016. Early in 2017, after all the entries had been read by sponsors from a publishing company and a bookshop, and by volunteers associated with the prize, a long-list of 18 entries (and names of authors) was announced, on the notJack website, by Raimond Gaita. On 3 April 2017 a short-list of entries (and names of authors) was announced by e-mail. “The facts are,” the e-mail said, “we are really sure that a winner will not be determined from the usual judging process.” On 20 May 2017 a further e-mail to entrants announced that “A decision on a particular entry could not be equitably reached.”
We do not accept this is a fair or appropriate response, and believe that the administration of the prize, in the University of Melbourne, has been incompetent and organisers obtuse. A 25 May 2017 e-mail from the organisers attempted to clarify many questions asked by entrants about the organisation of the prize but failed to answer the most important of them: why was a short-list publicised but no winner determined? One member of the notJack advisory panel has remarked publicly of the result: “I find it strange that if there’s a shortlist, there’s not a winner, or someone provided to break a deadlock and just make a decision. Once there is a shortlist, I would have thought the merit of entries established!” Writers submitting to the notJack Prize can expect, for a fee, to be treated to delay, disorganisation, and embarrassment. We urge you to avoid it.
— Short-listed entrants in the 2016 notJack Prize