AustLit logo
Award for Fiction
Subcategory of Festival Awards for Literature (SA)
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.

Winners

2012 winner y separately published work icon That Deadman Dance Kim Scott , Sydney : Picador , 2010 Z1728528 2010 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 43 units)

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)

2010 winner y separately published work icon Ransom David Malouf , North Sydney : Knopf Australia , 2009 Z1529380 2009 single work novel (taught in 20 units) 'With learning worn lightly and in his own lyrical language, David Malouf revisits Homer's Iliad. Focusing on the unbreakable bonds between men - Priam and Hector, Patroclus and Achilles, Priam and the cart-driver hired to retrieve Hector's body. Pride, grief, brutality, love and neighbourliness are explored.' (Publisher's blurb)
2008 winner y separately published work icon The Ballad of Desmond Kale Roger McDonald , Milsons Point : Vintage , 2005 Z1222002 2005 single work novel historical fiction

In the first days of British settlement in Australia, Desmond Kale, an Irish political prisoner, escapes and disappears beyond the colony line, where rumour says he is thriving.

2006 winner y separately published work icon Sixty Lights Gail Jones , London : Harvill Press , 2004 Z1136231 2004 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 15 units)

'Sixty Lights is the captivating chronicle of Lucy Strange, an independent girl growing up in the Victorian world. From her childhood in Australia through to her adolescence in England and Bombay and finally to London, Lucy is fascinated by light and by the new photographic technology. Her perception of the world is passionate and moving, revealed in a series of frozen images captured in the camera of her mind's eye showing her feelings about love, life and loss. In this confident, finely woven and intricate novel Jones has created an unforgettable character in Lucy; visionary, gifted and exuberant, she touches the lives of all who know her.' (Publication summary)

2004 winner y separately published work icon Moral Hazard Moral Hazard : A Novel Kate Jennings , London : Fourth Estate , 2002 Z931717 2002 single work novel (taught in 1 units) 'A liberal young woman finds herself working for arrogant, greedy men on Wall Street while her beloved husband begins to suffer from the early onset of Alzheimer's Disease.' (Publication release) 
1998 winner National Fiction Award y separately published work icon The Drowner Robert Drewe , Sydney : Macmillan , 1996 Z287656 1996 single work novel historical fiction

'In the warm alkaline waters of the public bath, a naive and headstrong young engineer accidentally collides with a breathtaking actress. From this innocent collision of flesh begins a passion that will take them from the Wiltshire Downs to the mythical source of life in Africa - and to the most elemental choices of life and death in the Australian desert.

'While the intense love story of William Dance and Angelica Lloyd is at the heart of The Drowner, it is but a part of the daring story that unfolds. By irresistibly mingling history, myth and technology with a modern cinematic and poetic imagination, Robert Drewe has reached beyond the traditions of the romance and annexed new territory.

'Such is the grand scale and original texture of The Drowner that it is at once a fable of European ambitions in an alien landscape, a magnificently sustained metaphor of water as the life and death force and, above all, an intimate and ambitious portrayal - of great resonance and haunting sensuality - of the essence of the differences between men and women.

'Lyrical and astringent, vibrant and tender, The Drowner has all the mysterious powers of a dream. Robert Drewe's seventh work of fiction shows an author at the peak of his powers demonstrating the full vigour of his artistic vision.' (Publication summary)

1996 winner y separately published work icon Death of a River Guide Richard Flanagan , Ringwood : McPhee Gribble , 1994 Z822275 1994 single work novel (taught in 5 units) 'Beneath a waterfall on the Franklin, Aljaz Cosini, river guide, lies drowning. Beset by visions at once horrible and fabulous, he relives not just his own life but that of his family and forebears. As the river rises his visions grow more turbulent, and in the flood of the past Aljaz discovers the soul history his country'. (Source: Trove)
1994 winner y separately published work icon Grand Days Frank Moorhouse , Chippendale : Pan Macmillan Australia , 1993 Z113558 1993 single work novel historical fiction On a train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood in the dining car, makes his acquaintance over a lunch of six courses, and allows him to kiss her passionately. Their early intimacy binds them together once they reach Geneva and their posts at the newly created League of Nations. There, a heady idealism prevails over Edith and her young colleagues, and nothing seems beyond their grasp, certainly not world peace. The exuberance of the times carries over into Geneva nights: Edith is drawn into a dark and glamorous underworld where, coaxed by Ambrose, she becomes more and more sexually adventurous. (Source: Publisher's website)
1992 winner y separately published work icon The Great World David Malouf , London : Chatto and Windus , 1990 Z436200 1990 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 3 units)

'Every city, town and village has its memorial to war. Nowhere are these more eloquent than in Australia, generations of whose young men have enlisted to fight other people's battles - from Gallipoli and the Somme to Malaya and Vietnam. In THE GREAT WORLD, his finest novel yet, David Malouf gives a voice to that experience. But THE GREAT WORLD is more than a novel of war. Ranging over seventy years of Australian life, from Sydney's teeming King's Cross to the tranquil backwaters of the Hawkesbury River, it is a remarkable novel of self-knowledge and lost innocence, of survival and witness.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Vintage reprint).

1990 winner y separately published work icon Oscar and Lucinda Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1988 Z359704 1988 single work novel (taught in 7 units)

'Oscar Hopkins is an Oxford seminarian with a passion for gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a Sydney heiress with a fascination for glass. The year is 1864. When they meet on the boat to Australia their lives will be forever changed ...'

(Source: Publisher's website)

1988 winner y separately published work icon Julia Paradise Rod Jones , Fitzroy : McPhee Gribble , 1986 Z341710 1986 single work novel A completely amoral doctor, Kenneth Ayres, psychoanalyses Queenslander Julia Paradise, a morphine addict and missionary's wife in the Shanghai British Colony. As Julia's subconscious reveals its ambiguities, Ayres is trapped by sexual symbols and forces, becoming a victim of his own fallacies and his patient's vengeance. (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1986 winner y separately published work icon The Children's Bach Helen Garner , Melbourne : McPhee Gribble , 1984 Z371975 1984 single work novella (taught in 6 units)

Athena and Dexter lead an enclosed family life, innocent of fashion and bound towards a disturbed child. Their comfortable rut is disrupted by the arrival of Elizabeth, a tough nut from Dexter's past. With her three charming, chaotic hangers-on, she draws the couple out into a world whose casual egotism they had barely dreamed of. How can they get home again? (Source: publisher's website)

X