Australian author discovers she won $150,000 … in her junk mail

Turns out one of those emails that end up in your junk mail folder might actually end up making you rich after all! While going through her spam folder, famed Australian author Helen Garner saw an e-mail from a stranger at Yale University promising her “good news” and asking her to give her phone number. While Garner initially suspected a hoax, she found out a couple of phone calls later that she had actually won the Windham-Campbell prize for writers — worth $150,000. “I nearly keeled over,” Garner told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m staggered. I feel thrilled and validated.”

The prize is unusual by virtue of not having a shortlist or submission process, often taking its laureates by surprise as they had no idea they were even in the running until they receive a message from prize director Michael Kelleher. Irish playwright Abbie Spallen, another winner, believed it was a “scam”, while Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch almost ignored the voicemail on her phone, believing it was something like “Congratulations, you’ve won a cruise to Florida if you pay $200.” Garner, who was lauded for her non-fiction work, said the award  “validates in the most marvellously generous way the formal struggles that I’ve been engaged in over the past 20 years. It gives me the heart to keep going”.

In addition to being a fiction writer and essayist, Garner has written three non-fiction books that cover harrowing court cases – The First Stone (1995), Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) and This House of Grief (2014), the story of a man who drowned his three sons in a dam.

Watch Helen Garner speak about her writing below:

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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