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HNSA Historical Novel Prize
or Historical Novel Society Australasia Historical Novel Prize ; or ARA Historical Novel Prize
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2022

Indexed selectively. Also longlisted: Amorangi and Millie's Trip through Time.
winner (Adult) y separately published work icon Corporal Hitler’s Pistol Thomas Keneally , Sydney : Vintage Australia , 2021 21857861 2021 single work novel

'How did Corporal Hitler's Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

'When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

'A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

'Corporal Hitler's Pistol speaks to the never-ending war that began with 'the war to end all wars'. Rural communities have always been a melting pot and many are happy to accept a diverse bunch … as long as they don’t overstep. Set in a town he knows very well, in this novel Tom Keneally tells a compelling story of the interactions and relationships between black and white Australians in early twentieth-century Australia.' (Publication summary)

winner (Children and Young Adult) y separately published work icon Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief Katrina Nannestad , Sydney : ABC Books , 2021 22124116 2021 single work children's fiction children's historical fiction

'Award-winning writer Katrina Nannestad transports us to Russia and the Great Patriotic War and into the life of Sasha, a soldier at only six years old ...

'Wood splinters and Mama screams and the nearest soldier seizes her roughly by the arms. My sister pokes her bruised face out from beneath the table and shouts, 'Run, Sasha! Run!'

'So I run. I run like a rabbit.

'It's spring, 1942. The sky is blue, the air is warm and sweet with the scent of flowers.

'And then everything is gone.

'The flowers, the proud geese, the pretty wooden houses, the friendly neighbours. Only Sasha remains.

'But one small boy, alone in war-torn Russia, cannot survive.

'One small boy without a family cannot survive.

'One small boy without his home cannot survive.

'What that small boy needs is an army.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2021

winner (Adult) y separately published work icon The Burning Island Jock Serong , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 18935902 2020 single work novel historical fiction

'Eliza Grayling, born in Sydney when the colony itself was still an infant, has lived there all her thirty-two years. Too tall, too stern—too old, now—for marriage, she lives by herself, looking in on her reclusive father in case he has injured himself while drunk. There is a shadow in his past, she knows. Something obsessive. Something to do with a man who bested him thirty-three years ago.

'Then Srinivas, another figure from that dark past, offers Joshua Grayling the chance for a reckoning with his nemesis. Eliza is horrified. The plan entails a sea voyage far to the south and an uncertain, possibly violent, outcome. Insanity for a helpless drunkard who also happens to be blind.

'Unable to dissuade her father from his mad quest, Eliza begins to understand she may be forced to go with him. Then she sees the ship they will be sailing on. And in that instant, the voyage of the Moonbird becomes Eliza's mission too.' (Publication summary)

winner (Children and Young Adult) y separately published work icon We Are Wolves Katrina Nannestad , Sydney : ABC Books , 2020 19829486 2020 single work children's fiction children's historical fiction

'Sometimes it's good to be wild.

'Sometimes you have to be wild.

'When the Russian Army marches into East Prussia at the end of the war, the Wolf family must flee. Liesl, Otto and their baby sister Mia find themselves lost and alone, in a blizzard, in the middle of a war zone. Liesl has promised Mama that she will keep her brother and sister safe.

'But sometimes, to survive, you have to do bad things. Dangerous things. Wild things.

'Sometimes to survive, you must become a wolf.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2020

inaugural winner y separately published work icon Stone Sky Gold Mountain Mirandi Riwoe , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2020 18132113 2020 single work novel

'Tragic family circumstances force siblings Ying and Lai Yue to flee their home in China to seek their fortunes in North Queensland. Life on the gold fields is hard, and they soon abandon the diggings and head to nearby Maytown. Once there, Lai Yue finds a job as a carrier on expeditions, taking him far away from his sister. Ying remains in the township, where she works in a local store and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Meriem, a young white woman with a troubled past. Maytown is a place where violence frequently erupts and, when a serious crime is committed, suspicion falls on all those who are considered outsiders.

'Evoking the rich, unfolding tapestry of Australian life in the late nineteenth century, Stone Sky Gold Mountain is a heartbreaking and timeless story about those exiled from family and place who encounter discrimination yet yearn for acceptance.'   (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Thomas Keneally Wins ARA Historical Novel Prize with New Book Helena Burke , 2022 single work column
— Appears in: ABC News [Online] , October 2022;

'One of Australia's most-celebrated authors has decided to give away $50,000 in prize money instead of spending the cash on "incontinence pads".'  (Introduction)