AustLit logo
Christina Stead Prize for Fiction (1979-)
Subcategory of New South Wales 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.

Notes

  • Awarded to a published work of fiction (a novel or a collection of short stories).

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2022

winner y separately published work icon Dark As Last Night Tony Birch , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2021 19702775 2021 selected work short story

'Dark as Last Night confirms, once again, that Tony Birch is a master of the short story. These exceptional stories capture the importance of human connection at pivotal moments in our lives, whether those occur because of the loss of a loved one or the uncertainties of childhood. In this collection we witness a young girl struggling to protect her mother from her father’s violence, two teenagers clumsily getting to know one another by way of a shared love of music, and a man mourning the death of his younger brother, while beset by memories and regrets from their shared past. Throughout this powerful collection, Birch’s concern for the humanity of those who are often marginalised or overlooked shines bright.'

Source : publisher's blurb

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 18931283 2020 single work novel historical fiction

'Do not believe too quickly…

'What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir?

'In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

'Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life—marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none—with spirit, cunning and sly wit.

'Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past: devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face—here’s what one of them really thought.

'At the centre of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times: the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

'A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present.'(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 Life to Come Michelle De Kretser , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2017 11460446 2017 single work novel

'Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.

'Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

'Profoundly moving as well as bitingly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present.' (Synopsis)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Book of Dirt Bram Presser , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11521001 2017 single work novel historical fiction

'They chose not to speak and now they are gone. What's left to fill the silence is no longer theirs. This is my story, woven from the threads of rumour and legend.'

'Jakub Rand flees his village for Prague, only to find himself trapped by the Nazi occupation. Deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, he is forced to sort through Jewish books for a so-called Museum of the Extinct Race. Hidden among the rare texts is a tattered prayer book, hollow inside, containing a small pile of dirt.

'Back in the city, Františka Roubíčková picks over the embers of her failed marriage, despairing of her conversion to Judaism. When the Nazis summon her two eldest daughters for transport, she must sacrifice everything to save the girls from certain death.

'Decades later, Bram Presser embarks on a quest to find the truth behind the stories his family built around these remarkable survivors.

'The Book of Dirt is a completely original novel about love, family secrets, and Jewish myths. And it is a heart-warming story about a grandson's devotion to the power of storytelling and his family's legacy.'

Works About this Award

NSW Premier's Literary Awards Shortlist Indigenous and Climate Change Stories Linda Morris , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 14 April 2016;
'Tony Birch has been many times a bridesmaid, but there is one literary prize he wouldn't mind losing – the new standalone prize for indigenous writers announced as part of the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards' shortlist on Thursday. ...'
Indigenous Writers Celebrated Linda Morris , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 15 April 2016; (p. 13)
Out-of-the-Box Novel Takes Top Prize Award for Book That Had a Tortuous Birth Susan Wyndham , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 19 May 2015; (p. 16) The Canberra Times , 19 May 2015; (p. 3)
Bookmarks Jason Steger , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 21 May 2011; (p. 33)
X