AustLit logo
Highly Commended
Subcategory of Prime Minister's Literary Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


'Australian fiction in the past 12 months was apparently so good that a seven-book shortlist was not enough for the judges of the Prime Minister's Literary Award. So they created a new "highly commended" category. Peter Pierce, who chaired the fiction panel, tells Undercover: "We thought that the evenness of quality of a score of books meant that some outside the shortlist ought to be highly commended, literally commended to Australian readers." These books may benefit from the publicity even though they have no chance at the $100,000 prize: Turtle, by Gary Bryson; Texas, by Sarah Hay; Morris in Iceland, by Alex Jones; Disquiet, by Julia Leigh; and Ice, by Louis Nowra.'

Source: Saturday, September 26, 2009 (Sighted 12/12/2013)


2009 y separately published work icon Ice Louis Nowra , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2008 Z1532127 2008 single work novel

'An iceberg is towed through the Heads to the astonishment of colonial Sydney. As it melts, the iceberg is revealed as a tomb to the perfectly preserved body of a young sailor, who died forty years before.

'A man lost in grief for his wife is haunted by his memories of her. His life becomes a memorial to her, in the hope of defeating the oblivion of death.

'Ice tells the story of Malcolm McEacharn, the man who brings joy to early Sydney in the form of an iceberg and who later pioneers the first successful refrigerated voyage from Australia to London. He is a brilliant businessman who will later bring electricity to Melbourne, become its Lord Mayor and be one step away from becoming Prime Minister - but he is driven by an obsession that threatens to destroy him and his world.

'Ice also tells a parallel story, set in contemporary Sydney, of a young biographer who lies in a coma, and her bereft husband's desperate attempts to resurrect her by unearthing the truth about her subject McEacharn.' (Publisher's blurb)

2009 y separately published work icon Disquiet Julia Leigh , Camberwell : Penguin , 2008 Z1457081 2008 single work novella (taught in 3 units) An elegant young woman stands with her two children at the gate of an austere chateau, locked out. The three have come from Australia, escaping violence, and their arrival is unexpected. The two children have never been here before. The woman, Olivia, has come home. But home is not what it was. Even when Olivia gains entry, what she finds is not what she left. While the children are entranced by the house, the formal gardens and the inviting lake, Olivia learns that members of her estranged family have experienced tragedies they cannot openly discuss - just as she has, herself - leading them to behave in ways that destabilise a world of exquisite artifice and control. - from dust jacket flap
2009 y separately published work icon Morris in Iceland Alex I. Jones , Glebe : Puncher and Wattmann , 2008 Z1512165 2008 single work novel 'The life of William Morris - poet, designer, socialist visionary - and the music of Björk: are these the materials for a modern opera? The Inner West Creative Mime Atelier think so. As their project unfolds to the dream-like tempo of a Sydney summer, it intersects the lives of the narrator, his grandchild, his daughter Gracie and her intended spouse. His wife's absence meanwhile gives the narrator time to ponder the theory of narrative, the roles that life calls on us to play, and the disturbing fascination of the ensemble's young choreographer.' (Publisher's blurb)
2009 y separately published work icon Texas : An Australian Love Story Sarah Hay , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2008 Z1488279 2008 single work novel 'On a rundown station in the remote top end of Australia, life for Susannah is isolated and difficult. Susannah is left alone by her husband who is the manager of the station. She is forced to cope with their young twins, the hard physical work of running the homestead, and the frustration that these things now mark the boundaries of her life. Nothing is as she expected it to be; a dark history seeps through the land and the air shimmers with heat and an intangible menace. And then a young English girl, Laura, hired by her husband, arrives on the property to work as a jillaroo. Laura falls in love with Texas, the Aboriginal head stockman, naively believing that her love will pull him out of long-held destructive habits. And Susannah, preoccupied by her own struggles, watches from the sidelines.' (Publisher's blurb)
2009 y separately published work icon Turtle Gary Bryson , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2008 Z1522914 2008 single work novel

Set in a bleak and rain-bedrizzled Glasgow, this is the story of Donald Pinelli, whose mother Trixie is not only mad, she's psychic too - not a good combination, especially when it means she's convinced Donald is cursed to die by drowning on his eighteenth birthday. As if that it isn't enough, Donald has to contend with a gangster father, siblings who hate him and a best friend who betrays him. Life's mince, and no mistake. But an unexpected encounter with a cantankerous turtle in a rundown zoo abruptly sets young Donald on a crash course in survival.

'Years later, Trixie's death brings an older but not much wiser Donald back to Glasgow - to attend her funeral, sort through his childhood memories, come to terms with his failures, and maybe, who knows, forge a new life for himself without his carapace of bitterness and resentment. (Publisher's blurb)