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ALS Gold Medal (1928-)
or Australian Literary Studies Gold Medal
Subcategory of ASAL Awards
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History

The ALS Gold Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year. The Medal was inaugurated by the Australian Literature Society, which was founded in Melbourne in 1899 and incorporated into the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) in 1982.

The medal was originally awarded for the best novel published in the previous year but, since 1937, other literary forms have been eligible for consideration. The medal has sometimes been called the Crouch Gold Medal after its principal benefactor, Colonel R. A. Crouch.

No nominations are required, though ASAL members are invited to propose potential winners to the judging panel.

The award was either not offered or not awarded in the following years: 1943-1947 inc., 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1967-1969 inc., and 1975-1982 inc.

Notes

  • Awarded annually since 1928, originally for the best novel published in the previous year, but since 1937 other literary forms have been eligible for consideration. Since 1982 the medal has been awarded by ASAL (Association for the Study of Australian Literature). The medal has sometimes been called the Crouch Gold Medal after its principal benefactor, Colonel R. A. Crouch. (Oxford Companion to Australian Literature)

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon Song of the Crocodile Nardi Simpson , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2020 19679450 2020 single work novel

'Darnmoor, The Gateway to Happiness. The sign taunts a fool into feeling some sense of achievement, some kind of end- that you have reached a destination in the very least. Yet the sign states clearly, Darnmoor is the gateway, and merely a measure, the mark, a point on a road you begin to move closer to a place you might really want to be.

'Darnmoor is the home of the Billymil family, three generations who have lived in this 'gateway town'. Race relations between Indigenous and settler families are fraught, though the rigid status quo is upheld through threats and soft power rather than the overt violence of yesteryear.

'As progress marches inexorably onward, Darnmoor and its surrounds undergo rapid social and environmental changes, but as some things change, some stay exactly the same. Our protagonist characters are watched (and sometimes visited) by ancestral spirits and spirits of the recently deceased, who look out for their descendants and attempt to help them on the right path.

'When the town's secrets start to be uncovered the town will be rocked by a violent act that forever shatters a century of silence.

'Full of music, Gamillaray language and exquisite description, Song of The Crocodile is a lament to choice and change, and the unyielding land that sustains us all, if we can but listen to it.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Nganajungu Yagu Charmaine Papertalk-Green , Melbourne : Cordite Press , 2019 16924590 2019 selected work poetry

'Forty years ago, letters, words and feelings flowed between a teenage daughter and her mother. Letters writen by that teenage daughter – me – handed around family back home, disappeared. Yet letters from that mother to her teenage daughter – me – remained protected in my red life-journey suitcase. I carried them across time and landscapes as a mother would carry her baby in a thaga.

'In 1978–79, I was living in an Aboriginal girls’ hostel in the Bentley suburb of Perth, attending senior high school. Mum and I sent handwritten letters to each other. I was a small-town teenager stepping outside of all things I had ever known. Mum remained in the only world she had ever known.

'Nganajungu Yagu was inspired by Mother’s letters, her life and the love she instilled in me for my people and my culture. A substantial part of that culture is language, and I missed out on so much language interaction having moved away. I talk with my ancestors’ language – Badimaya and Wajarri – to honour ancestors, language centres, language workers and those Yamaji who have been and remain generous in passing on cultural knowledge.

'–Charmain Papertalk Green'  (Publication summary) 

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Click Here For What We Do Pamela Brown , Sydney : Vagabond Press , 2018 13965575 2018 selected work poetry

'Click here for what we do is a cluster of four loosely connected poems that are not only sceptical of the status quo's serial mendacities and hype but, in a way, they also attempt a coming to terms with the erosion of the idealistic conditions that once made non-mainstream culture, including poetry, so viable and, even, necessary. For Pam Brown writing poetry is a habit, a disorganised ritual. Her poetic inventories begin in everyday bricolage. Real things interrupt the poems the same way thoughts and phrases do. She dismantles monumental intent and then, by mixing (rather than layering), splices the remains into a melange of imagery and thoughtful lyric. Hers is a friendly intelligence that clues in connections to the 'social' as the poems make political and personal associative links. Spurning any lofty design these poems debug the absurdities of contemporary materialism with surreptitious humour. Though disquiet is present it's usually temporary. Here, thinking about the future can be 'trickgensteinian' and yet Pam Brown's poems offer a circumspect optimism.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Agonist Shastra Deo , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2017 12000833 2017 selected work poetry

'With its wildness and originality, The Agonist is an exhilarating collection. Exploring the languages of anatomy, etymology and incantation, these poems craft conversations about fracture and repair, energy, love and danger. '  (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Mannix Brenda Niall , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2015 8355069 2015 single work biography

'Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne from 1917 until his death, aged ninety-nine, in 1963, was a towering figure in Melbourne's Catholic community. But his political interventions had a profound effect on the wider Australian nation too.

'Award-winning biographer Brenda Niall has made some unexpected discoveries in Irish and Australian archives which overturn some widely held views. She also draws on her own memories of meeting and interviewing Mannix to get to the essence of this man of contradictions, controversies and mystery.

'Mannix is not only an astonishing new look at a remarkable life, but a fascinating depiction of Melbourne in the first half last century.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Yamaji Poet Charmaine Papertalk Green Awarded 2020 Australian Literary Society Gold Medal Michelle Stanley , 2020 single work column
— Appears in: ABC News [Online] , July 2020;

'Yamaji woman and author Charmaine Papertalk Green has been awarded the 2020 Australian Literary Society gold medal for her book of poetry Nganajungu Yagu.'

'Outstanding' Mears up with the Greats Stephen Romei , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 5 July 2012; (p. 7)
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17-18 March 2012; (p. 31)
A column canvassing current literary news including a report on the 2012 ALS Gold Medal shortlist and a comment on a new South Australian publishing venture, MidnightSun Publishing.
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17-18 March 2012; (p. 31)
A column canvassing current literary news including a report on the 2012 ALS Gold Medal shortlist and a comment on a new South Australian publishing venture, MidnightSun Publishing.
Bookmarks William Yeoman , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The West Australian , 20 March 2009; (p. 12)
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