Calibre Prize 2014

The Calibre Prize is intended to generate brilliant new essays and to foster new insights into culture, society, and the human condition. We welcome essays from leading authors and commentators, but also from emerging writers. All non-fiction subjects are eligible.

Australian Book Review has much pleasure in announcing the winner of the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. Christine Piper receives $5000 for her essay ‘Unearthing the Past’. The judges – Morag Fraser and ABR Editor Peter Rose – chose Piper’s essay from a large field. We congratulate all of them, especially the winner and shortlisted essayists.

Peter Rose said, ‘Christine Piper’s inspired essay complements Calibre’s long record of highlighting essays of real quality and moment. Readers will not easily forget this bracing and important essay.’

Christine Piper writes about biological weapons and experiments on living human beings in pre-war and wartime Japan. The remains of just some of the victims (the overall death toll is estimated at 250,000 to 300,000) were discovered in Tokyo twenty-five years ago. They have never been identified. The story takes Dr Piper to Japan, where she interviews key lawyers and activists who are seeking answers. We also meet the unspeakable Shiro Ishii, dubbed the Josef Mengele of Japan. Ishii, who masterminded Japan’s biological warfare program, escaped prosecution through an immunity deal with the United States. He died at home in 1959.

Christine Piper 2014CHRISTINE PIPER is a freelance writer and editor. Born in South Korea to a Japanese mother and Australian father, she moved to Australia when she was one. She has previously taught English and studied Japanese in Japan, and currently lives in New York with her husband. See: www.christinepiper.com

On learning that she had won the Calibre Prize, Christine Piper commented: ‘I am honoured to be chosen as the winner, and delighted that my essay will have a wide audience thanks to Australian Book Review and Colin Golvan. I’d like to dedicate the award to the activists who have spent years campaigning and raising awareness about this dark chapter of Japan’s past.’

Christine Piper's winning essay is published in the April 2014 issue of ABR.

pdfClick here to download the media release.

Click here to read Christine Piper's essay: 'Unearthing the Past'.

Purchase the April 2014 print edition.

Subscribe to ABR Online to gain access to this issue online, plus the ABR archive (containing all Calibre Prize essays published from 2011).

Shortlisted essays

  • Ruth Balint: ‘The Paradox of Weimar: Hitlerism and Goethe’
  • Martin Edmond: ‘Five Towns’
  • Rebecca Giggs: ‘Open Ground: Trespassing on the Pilbara’s Mining Boom’
  • Ann-Marie Priest: ‘“Something very difficult and unusual”: The Love Song of Henry and Olga’
  • Stephen Wright: ‘Blows upon a Bruise’
ABR gratefully acknowledges the support of Mr Colin Golvan SC.
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