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Notes

  • In 2009, in addition to the shortlisted titles for the Fiction Award, an additional list of 'highly commended' works was nominated by the award judges.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon The Labyrinth Amanda Lohrey , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 19549542 2020 single work novel

'Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence.

'There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it—to find a way out of her quandary—Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.

'The Labyrinth is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children, that is also a meditation on how art can both be ruthlessly destructive and restore sanity. It shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon The Yield Tara June Winch , Melbourne : Hamish Hamilton , 2019 15449866 2019 single work novel

'After a decade in Europe August Gondiwindi returns to Australia for the funeral of her much-loved grandfather, Albert, at Prosperous House, her only real home and also a place of great grief and devastation.

'Leading up to his death Poppy Gondiwindi has been compiling a dictionary of the language he was forbidden from speaking after being sent to Prosperous House as a child. Poppy was the family storyteller and August is desperate to find the precious book that he had spent his last energies compiling.

'The Yield also tells the story of Reverend Greenleaf, who recalls founding the first mission at Prosperous House and recording the language of the first residents, before being interred as an enemy of the people, being German, during the First World War.

'The Yield, in exquisite prose, carefully and delicately wrestles with questions of environmental degradation, pre-white contact agriculture, theft of language and culture, water, religion and consumption within the realm of a family mourning the death of a beloved man.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon The Death of Noah Glass Gail Jones , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2018 11873096 2018 single work novel

'The art historian Noah Glass, having just returned from a trip to Sicily, is discovered floating face down in the swimming pool at his Sydney apartment block. His adult children, Martin and Evie, must come to terms with the shock of their father’s death. But a sculpture has gone missing from a museum in Palermo, and Noah is a suspect. The police are investigating.

'None of it makes any sense. Martin sets off to Palermo in search of answers about his father’s activities, while Evie moves into Noah’s apartment, waiting to learn where her life might take her. Retracing their father’s steps in their own way, neither of his children can see the path ahead.

'Gail Jones’s mesmerising new novel tells a story about parents and children, and explores the overlapping patterns that life makes. The Death of Noah Glass is about love and art, about grief and happiness, about memory and the mystery of time.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Border Districts Gerald Murnane , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2017 11570334 2017 single work novel

'Conceived as Gerald Murnane’s last work of fiction, Border Districts was written after the author moved from Melbourne to a small town on the western edge of the Wimmera plains, near the border with South Australia. The narrator of this fiction has made a similar move, from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is a time for exploring the enduring elements of his experience, as these exist in his mind, images whose persistence is assured, but whose significance needs to be rediscovered. Readers of Murnane’s earlier work will recognise some of these images: the dark-haired young woman at a window; the ancestral house set in grasslands; coloured glass, marbles, goldfish, the outfits of jockeys. Murnane’s images often draw their power from the light that falls upon them from a distant or mysterious source. But he also considers the possibility that the mind casts its own light, imbuing the images in the observer’s mind with the colours of his soul.

'As Murnane’s narrator declares, ‘the mind is a place best viewed from borderlands’. In this work, Border Districts also refers to the border country between life and death; and there is another meaning, in the narrator’s discovery of others who might share his world, even though they enter it from a different direction, across the border districts which separate, or unite, two human beings.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Their Brilliant Careers : The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers Ryan O'Neill , Carlton : Black Inc. , 2016 9580377 2016 selected work short story humour

'In Their Brilliant Careers, Ryan O’Neill has written a hilarious novel in the guise of sixteen biographies of (invented) Australian writers. Meet Rachel Deverall, who discovers the secret female source of the great literature of our time – and pays a terrible price for her discovery. Meet Rand Washington, hugely popular sci-fi author (of Whiteman of Cor) and holder of extreme views on race and gender. Meet Addison Tiller, the master of the bush yarn, “The Chekhov of Coolabah”, who has never travelled outside Sydney.

Their Brilliant Careers is a playful set of stories, linked in many ways, which together form a memorable whole. It is a wonderful comic tapestry of the writing life, and a large-scale parody in which every detail adds to the humour of the overall picture' (publication blurb).

Works About this Award

Audacious Writing Richly Rewarded Jane Sullivan , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 20 November 2010; (p. 25)
Canberra Author Short-Listed for PM's Prize Gia Metherell , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 16 July 2010; (p. 7)
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 26-27 September 2009; (p. 26)
A column canvassing current literary news including a list of 'highly commended' fiction titles for the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards. (This list is in addition to the shortlisted titles.) Susan Wyndham also reports on Random House's initiative to publish print-on-demand books from their back list.
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