AustLit logo
Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer
Subcategory of Victorian Premier'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.


This award was not offered in 2011.


2021 winner André Dao for 'Anam'.
2020 winner Rhett Davis for 'Hovering'.
2019 winner y separately published work icon Kokomo Victoria Hannan , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2020 18052217 2020 single work novel

'When Mina receives an urgent call from her best friend back in Melbourne, her world is turned upside down. Her agoraphobic mother, Elaine, has left the house for the first time in twelve years. Mina drops everything to fly home, only to discover that Elaine will not talk about her sudden return to the world, nor why she's spent so much time hiding from it. Their reunion leaves Mina raking through pieces of their painful past in a bid to uncover the truth.

'Both tender and fierce, heartbreaking and funny, Kokomo is a story about how secrets and love have the power to bring us together and tear us apart.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Nowhere Child Christian White , Melbourne : Affirm Press , 2018 13766650 2018 single work novel thriller

'‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

'On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes she is that girl.

'At first Kim brushes it off, but when she scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying, and entirely unexpected climax.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

As 'Decay Theory'.

2016 winner y separately published work icon Australia Day Melanie Cheng , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11202969 2017 selected work short story

'Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng. The people she writes abut are young, old, rich, poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, Muslim. What they have in common—no matter where they come from—is the desire we all share to feel that we belong. The stories explore universal themes of love, loss, family and identity, while at the same time asking crucial questions about the possibility of human connection in a globalised world.' (Introduction)

2015 winner y separately published work icon The Dry Jane Harper , Sydney : Macmillan Australia , 2016 9592721 2016 single work novel detective


'Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ...

'When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

'And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret ... A secret Falk thought long-buried ... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface ...' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Fever of Animals Miles Allinson , Brunswick : Scribe , 2015 8610954 2015 single work novel

'Fever of Animals is the story of Miles, an Australian man who is no longer an artist, and his two life-changing journeys: a holiday to Venice that ultimately costs him his girlfriend, Alice, and a trip to Europe, on the trail of the Romanian surrealist painter Emil Bafdescu, who disappeared in 1967. Dense and moody, this is a layered story about one man’s lack of self-knowledge, and about the people, places and memories that slip through his fingers.' (Publication summary)

2013 winner y separately published work icon Foreign Soil Maxine Beneba Clarke , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2014 6593323 2014 selected work short story

'In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.' (Publication summary)

2012 winner y separately published work icon The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2013 Z1863383 2013 single work novel humour

'Don Tillman is a forty-year-old geneticist with undiagnosed Aspergers. When he wants to find a partner, he approaches the project the only way he knows - systematically. He creates a questionnaire designed to find the perfect woman - a punctual, non-drinking, non-smoking female who will fit in with his regimented lifestyle. When Rosie appears on the scene, she fits none of Don's criteria - but she does turn his life upside down.'

Source: Wheeler Centre website,
Sighted: 28/05/2012

2010 winner y separately published work icon House of Sticks Peggy Frew , 2010 Carlton North : Scribe , 2011 Z1722658 2010 single work novel 'Bonnie has given up her life as a musician to become a stay-at-home mum. She tells herself she has no regrets, but sometimes the isolation and the relentless demands of three small children threaten to swamp the love between Bonnie and her partner, Pete.

'Then an old mate of Pete's arrives. Doug is eccentric and intrusive, and his unsettling presence disrupts Bonnie's world further. Yet as the cracks really start to show in the life Bonnie and Pete have built together, it seems the dangers might also come from within.

'House of Sticks is a revealing portrait of contemporary family life, its joys and compromises, and how quickly things can unravel. It's about trying to stay connected in our disconnected society; a story of identity and community, loyalty and love.' (From the publisher's website.)
2009 winner y separately published work icon Sufficient Grace Amy Espeseth , 2009 Brunswick : Scribe , 2012 Z1613099 2009 single work novel

'Ruth and her cousin Naomi live in rural Wisconsin, part of an isolated religious community. The girls' lives are ruled by the rhythms of nature — the harsh winters, the hunting seasons, the harvesting of crops — and by their families' beliefs. Beneath the surface of this closed, frozen world, hidden dangers lurk.

'Then Ruth learns that Naomi harbours a terrible secret. She searches for solace in the mysteries of the natural world: broken fawns, migrating birds, and the strange fish deep beneath the ice. Can the girls' prayers for deliverance be answered?

'Sufficient Grace is a story of lost innocence and the unfailing bond between two young women. It is at once devastating and beautiful, and ultimately transcendent.' (From the publisher's website.)

2008 winner y separately published work icon Going Finish Mandy Maroney , 2008 (Manuscript version)x402019 Z1520756 2008 single work novel

'Set in Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s as independence approached, this novel is narrated by Billie, home from boarding school for the summer, pleased to be among people she knows, and ready to fall in love for the first time.

Source: State Library of Victoria website,
Sighted: 08/08/2008

2007 winner y separately published work icon Ghostlines The Ghostwriter Nick Gadd , Carlton North : Scribe , 2008 Z1515939 2008 single work novel crime thriller 'Philip Trudeau, a once-respected investigative journalist, has stepped on the wrong toes. With his personal life and health deteriorating around him, he is consigned to a suburban newspaper where he writes "filler" local news articles to be slotted in among the real-estate and restaurant advertisements. Sent to cover what appears to be a tragic-yet-routine death at a level crossing, Philip is drawn into a multilayered mystery that involves art theft, political intrigue and business corruption ... not to mention murder.' (Publisher's blurb) Manuscript titled 'The Ghostwriter' at the time of award announcement.
2006 winner y separately published work icon Rohypnol Andrew Hutchinson , 2006 Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 2007 Z1304543 2006 single work novel

'The New Punk is not about moving towards the future. It is about your life right now, impatiently standing still.

Fact: Bad people do bad things.
In the new age of money, drugs and instant satisfaction, you make your own rules. You take what you want, you don't ask. There is no responsibility. There is no guilt. If someone burns you, you should do the same to them. It's an issue of equality.'
Hutchinson 'portrays a disturbing reality in which cold and disillusioned youths assault the comfortable middle-class world around them'. Rohypnol 'examines the mind of a self-made monster - and questions the direction of modern life.' (Publisher's blurb)

2005 winner y separately published work icon I Hate Martin Amis et Al Peter Barry , 2005 Yarraville : Transit Lounge , 2011 Z1232777 2005 single work novel

'It is 1995. Milan Zorec, an aspiring yet rejected novelist, travels from England to Bosnia to join the Serbian forces as a sniper in Sarajevo, in the final months of the longest siege in history. He's determined to find a story that no publisher will be able to damn with the words, "I feel I've seen this before."

'In doing so Milan journeys from innocence into the slow burning grip of darkness. Among his fellow snipers, the lost souls who make up Ratko Mladic's army, Milan gains the ammunition to write his masterpiece - the novel that hasn't been written before.

'Alternating between London and Sarajevo, I Hate Martin Amis et al is a chilling, blackly humorous novel that will appeal to both lovers of the word and anyone who's fallen short of their ambitions. Peter Barry's stunningly original, award winning debut isn't just about literary failure, though. It's a compelling portrait of the dreamer, and bores down into the very centre of things - why we write, why we read, how we might live in these, the strangest of times.' (From the publisher's website.)

2004 winner y separately published work icon Behind the Night Bazaar Thai Died Angela Savage , 2004 Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2006 Z1276000 2004 single work novel crime detective thriller

'Thirty-something Australian Jayne Keeney works as a PI in Bangkok. Shaken by a serious incident, she heads north to visit her close friend Didier in Chiang Mai, though there's no relief for her there. Murder is in the air and the police, led by Lieutenant Colonel Ratratarn, have no interest in justice. But Jayne does. With some help from Arthur Conan Doyle she digs deep—past the tacky glamour of the city's clubs and bars, arrogant expats, corrupt officials, and a steamy affair—to find out just what happened behind the Night Bazaar.

'Angela Savage has brought the streets of Thailand vividly to life. In Jayne Keeney she has created a gutsy heroine.This is an unforgettable debut novel and the start of an exciting new series.' (From the publisher's website.)

Awarded for the manuscript Thai Died
2003 inaugural winner y separately published work icon Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living The Cultivator Carrie Tiffany , 2003 Sydney : Picador , 2005 Z1080450 2003 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 6 units)

'It is 1934, the Great War is long over and the next is yet to come. It is a brief time of optimism and advancement.

'Billowing dust and information, the government 'Better Farming Train' slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing city experts and advice to those already living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science holds the answers and that productivity is patriotic.

'Amongst the swaying cars full of cows, pigs and wheat, an unlikely seduction occurs between Robert Pettergree, a man with an unusual taste for soil, and Jean Finnegan, a talented young seamstress with a hunger for knowledge. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism they settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that science can transform the land.

'With failing crops and the threat of a new World War looming, Robert and Jean are forced to confront each other, the community they have destroyed, and the impact of progress on an ancient and fragile landscape.

'Erotically charged, and shot through with humour and a quiet wisdom, this haunting first novel evokes the Australian landscape in all its stark beauty and vividly captures the hope and disappointment of an era.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Pre-publication title: The Cultivator.