More about the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

PureheartIt is commendable that recent Prime Ministers have continued the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards even though, as with some other literary prizes, its future has often seemed under threat. It is a prestigious national award amongst the also-important state and other literary prizes. And it is lucrative, with winners receiving $80 000 and shortlisted authors $5 000 – the latter amount equal to winners’ prize money in some other awards.

The complete shortlist is listed here: http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-10-19/2014-prime-ministers-literary-awards-shortlists-0

I’d like to make some additional comments on some categories and specific titles.

It is excellent to see that poetry has its own category here, as in other awards. There is a thriving Australian poetry community and publishing output that readers might not be aware of. As a starting point, explore the Thomas Shapcott Prize, an annual award for emerging Qld poets, which reminds us of the exquisite poetry and prose of venerable Shapcott himself.

The fiction category includes the delightful Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest (Penguin: Hamish Hamilton), which may have been shortlisted for as many recent awards as Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage). Australian writers and readers are still celebrating his well-deserved Man Booker Prize win, almost as though we won it ourselves. Moving Among Strangers

Gabrielle Carey’s Moving Among Strangers (UQP) about Randolph Stow and her family appears in the non-fiction category. I chaired a session with Gabrielle at the BWF several years ago and was interested then to hear about her research on this important Australian poet and novelist.

Merry Go Round in the Sea

Shortlisted in the history category, Clare Wright has been scooping awards for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (Text Publishing). She is also a knowledgeable and entertaining conversationalist.

The Young Adult fiction shortlist deservedly emulates some other YA awards, affirming Melissa Keil’s debut, Life in Outer Space (Hardie Grant Egmont), The First Third by Will Kostakis (Penguin) and The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna (Giramondo). It is great to see Simmone Howell’s edgy Girl Defective (Pan Macmillan) and Cassandra Golds’ groundbreaking Pureheart (Penguin) included. But where is Fiona Wood’s Wildlife (Pan Macmillan), which won this year’s CBCA award for Older Readers?

I have blogged about some of these books here: http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/what-will-win-ya-book-of-the-year/2014/07

Most State Awards have a children’s category, although it is inexplicably missing in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Children’s books are the foundation of our publishing industry – and keep it afloat. If our children are not encouraged to read, who will buy and read books in the future? How literate will Australia be? Most of the PM children’s shortlist has been appearing on shortlists across the country this year, reinforcing the quality of these books. Barry Jonsberg’s My Life as an Alphabet (Allen & Unwin) has been straddling both the children’s and YA categories. This, as well as Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester (Puffin) and Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette) have already won notable awards. It is great to see Julie Hunt’s original fantasy, Song for a Scarlet Runner (Allen & Unwin) appearing on yet another shortlist and Bob Graham, Australia’s world-class author-illustrator, has done it again with his latest picture book, Silver Buttons (Walker Books).Song for a Scarlet Runner

Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlists announced for 2012

The shortlists for this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced.

The shortlisted titles are:

Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction ($25,000)

  • Foal’s Bread (Gillian Mears, A&U)
  • A History of Books (Gerald Murnane, Giramondo)
  • The Cook (Wayne Macauley, Text)
  • Mateship with Birds (Carrie Tiffany, Picador)
  • All That I Am (Anna Funder, Penguin)
  • Cold Light (Frank Moorhouse, Vintage)

Nettie Palmer Prize for Nonfiction ($25,000)

  • The Biggest Estate on Earth (Bill Gammage, A&U)
  • The Hall of Uselessness (Simon Leys, Black Inc.)
  • Her Father’s Daughter (Alice Pung, Black Inc.)
  • Adelaide (Kerryn Goldsworthy, NewSouth)
  • 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and The Conquest of Australia(James Boyce, Black Inc.)
  • True North: The Story of Mary and Elizabeth Durack (Brenda Niall, Text)

Prize for Writing for Young Adults ($25,000)

  • All I Ever Wanted (Vikki Wakefield, Text)
  • The Shadow Girl (John Larkin, Woolshed Press)
  • The Shiny Guys (Doug MacLeod, Penguin

CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry ($25,000)

  • Southern Barbarians (John Mateer, Giramondo)
  • Vishvarupa (Michelle Cahill, Five Islands Press)
  • Armour (John Kinsella, Picador)

Louis Esson Prize for Drama ($25,000)

  • National Interest (Aiden Fennessy)
  • A Golem Story (Lally Katz)
  • Boxman (Daniel Keene).

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced at a ceremony on 16 October.