AustLit logo
Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction
or Readings New Australian Fiction Award.; or The Readings New Australian Writing Award; or New Australian Fiction Prize
Subcategory of Awards Australian 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.

History

Founded in 2014, the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction is awarded for an author's first or second book, and recognises exciting and exceptional new contributions to local literature.

It is open exclusively to works of fiction.

The inaugural name of the award was 'The Readings New Australian Writing Award'.

Winners

2020 winner y separately published work icon Smart Ovens for Lonely People Elizabeth Tan , Sydney : Brio Books , 2020 18436130 2020 selected work short story

'Conspiracies, memes, and therapies of various efficacy underpin this beguiling short-story collection from Elizabeth Tan.

'In the titular story, a cat-shaped oven tells a depressed woman she doesn’t have to be sorry anymore. A Yourtopia Bespoke Terraria employee becomes paranoid about the mounting coincidences in her life. Four girls gather to celebrate their underwear in ‘Happy Smiling Underwear Girls Party’, a hilarious take-down of saccharine advertisements.

'With her trademark wit and slicing social commentary, Elizabeth Tan’s short stories are as funny as they are insightful. This collection cements her role as one of Australia’s most inventive writers.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 winner y separately published work icon The Glad Shout Alice Robinson , South Melbourne : Affirm Press , 2019 15410416 2019 single work novel

'After a catastrophic storm destroys Melbourne, Isobel flees to higher ground with her husband and young daughter. Food and supplies run low, panic sets in and still no help arrives. To protect her daughter, Isobel must take drastic action.

'The Glad Shout is an extraordinary novel of rare depth and texture. Told in a starkly visual and compelling narrative, this is a deeply moving homage to motherhood and the struggles faced by women in difficult times.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner y separately published work icon Pulse Points : Stories Jennifer Down , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11679894 2017 selected work short story

'The characters in Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points live in small dusty towns, glittering exotic cities and slow droll suburbs; they are mourners, survivors and perpetrators. 

'In the award-winning ‘Aokigahara’, a young woman travels to the sea of trees in Japan to say goodbye. In ‘Coarsegold’, a woman conducts an illicit affair while her recovering girlfriend works the overnight motel shift in the middle of nowhere. In ‘Dogs’, Foggo runs an unruly gang of bored, cruel boys with a scent for fresh meat. In ‘Pressure Okay’ a middle-aged man goes to the theatre, gets a massage, remembers his departed wife, navigates the long game of grief with his adult daughter.' (Publication Summary)

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Windy Season Sam Carmody , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2016 9508107 2016 single work novel

'From an impressive new voice in Australian literature, a novel where safe harbour seems always just out of reach.

'Sam Carmody is a real literary talent, with an artist's inquiring mind and a natural feel for the beauty and toughness of language. Charlotte Wood, author of the award-winning The Natural Way of Things

'A young fisherman is missing from the crayfish boats in the harsh West Australian coastal town of Stark. There's no trace at all of Elliot, there hasn't been for some weeks and Paul, his younger brother, is the only one who seems to be active in the search. Taking Elliot's place on the boat skippered by their troubled cousin, Paul soon learns how many opportunities there are to get lost in those many thousands of kilometres of lonely coastline.

'Fierce, evocative and memorable, this is an Australian story set within an often wild and unforgiving sea, where mysterious influences are brought to bear on the inhospitable town and its residents.' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon Music and Freedom Zoë Morrison , Sydney : Random House Australia , 2016 9331945 2016 single work novel

'A gripping and beautifully written novel that brings to mind Notes on a Scandal and Elizabeth is Missing.

'Alice Haywood is born on an orange farm in country New South Wales. She begins playing the piano when she is three, taught by her English mother who is unhappy in Australia and in a desolate, violent marriage. When Alice is seven, her mother, desperate for her daughter to leave if she can't, sends her to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the next ten years. Then she's offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. That year, on a summer school in Oxford, she meets Edward, an economics professor, who sweeps her off her feet.

'But underneath his suave demeanor, Edward is a damaged man. He traps her into marriage and Alice is stuck, oppressed by his cruelty, in the Oxford home he has bought for her. After a disastrous recital of Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto, she stops playing and her dreams of becoming a concert pianist evaporate.

'Alice and Edward have a son, Richard, whom she adores. He too is a talented musician. But as Richard grows up he becomes more and more distant, and ultimately Alice can't find it in herself to carry on. Then she starts to hear the most beautiful music coming from the walls of her house.

'Inspiring and unusual, this novel's love story is that of a woman who must embrace life again if she is to survive. With a wonderful cast led by Alice, the novel explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music, and love.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon The Other Side of the World Stephanie Bishop , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2015 8312551 2015 single work novel

'Cambridge, 1963.

'Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes marriage and parenthood bring, with losing the time and the energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, wants things to be as they were and can’t face the thought of another English winter.

'A brochure slipped through the letterbox slot brings him the answer: ‘Australia brings out the best in you’.

'Despite wanting to stay in the place that she knows, Charlotte is too worn out to fight. Before she has a chance to realise what it will mean, she is travelling to the other side of the world. Arriving in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on both Henry and Charlotte and slowly reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs and how far she’ll go to find her way home …'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2014 inaugural winner y separately published work icon Only the Animals Ceridwen Dovey , Melbourne : Penguin , 2014 7149680 2014 selected work short story (taught in 4 units)

'In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette's theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany, Himmler's dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. In the siege of Sarajevo, a bear starving to death tells a fairytale; and a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath.

'Ten animal souls tell extraordinary stories about their lives and deaths, caught up in human conflicts of the last century and its turnings. Together they form an animal's eye view of humans at both our brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best. Exquisitely written, playful and poignant, Only the Animals is a remarkable literary achievement by one of our brightest young writers. It asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals, but for other people, and to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.' (Publication summary)

X