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Monday musings on Australian literature: Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2013 shortlist

June 17, 2013

We have been waiting, waiting, waiting for the announcement of the shortlist for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The sudden resignation of the Minister for the Arts a couple of months ago seems to have caused a delay in this announcement, which was expected in May. It’s one of my favourite awards on the Australian literary calendar – partly because it operates out of my home town but mainly because the winners are often not the “usual suspects” from the other awards around the country. It will be a shame if politics gets in the way of its smooth running!

The press release announcing the shortlist reminded me that these awards are now in their sixth year – which is right because they were one of the exciting initiatives of the new Labor Government after it came into power in late 2007.

The winners are usually announced in July but I can’t see a date in the press release or on the page the release links to. More waiting methinks!

Anyhow, without anymore preamble, this year’s shortlist, drawn from books published in 2012, is:

Fiction
Floundering by Romy Ash (Also shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin Award)
The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey (my review)
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser (I’ll be reading this in July, at last! Also shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin Award)
Lost Voices by Christopher Koch
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (my review. Won the Stella Prize and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award)

Poetry
Burning Rice by Eileen Chong
The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson (also shortlisted for the Stella Prize)
Jam Tree Gully: Poems by John Kinsella
Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden
Crimson Crop by Peter Rose

Non-fiction
Bradman’s War by Malcolm Knox
Uncommon Soldier by Chris Masters
Plein Airs and Graces by Adrian Mitchell
The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis
Bold Palates by Barbara Santich

Australian History
The Sex Lives of Australians: A History by Frank Bongiorno
Sandakan by Paul Ham
Gough Whitlam by Jenny Hocking
Farewell, Dear People by Ross McMullin
The Censor’s Library by Nicole Moore

Young adult fiction
Everything left unsaid by Jessica Davidson
The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett
Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson
Fog a Dox by Bruce Pascoe
Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Children’s fiction
Red by Libby Gleeson
Today We Have No Plans by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker
What’s the Matter, Aunty May? by Peter Friend, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
The Beginner’s Guide to Revenge by Marianne Musgrove

Congratulations to all the authors and publishers shortlisted. May they not have to wait too long for the winners’ announcement!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2013 6:49 pm

    I’m rapt to see Plein Airs and Graces shortlisted in the NF section. I loved that book!

    • June 17, 2013 6:53 pm

      Ah, I thought it rang a bell Lisa … interesting list. I still want to read The sunlit zone (poetry), but time is flying.

      Much as I enjoyed Tiffany, I do hope something different wins the fiction prize.

  2. June 18, 2013 6:13 am

    I don’t know any of them :{ I will be finishing my last requirement for my degree next week, so I can start looking for some of the fictional works.

    • June 18, 2013 8:03 am

      I remember that joy Isabel …. End of study and I can read what I want to read! Where will you start?!

      • June 19, 2013 1:58 am

        I will start with the adult fiction. I need to check whether they are available on this side of the world or in Book Depository!

        • June 19, 2013 7:54 am

          Some will be I think … If they’re not let me know … Particularly if there’s one you really want to read!

  3. ian darling permalink
    June 18, 2013 10:24 pm

    These awards are interesting in that they cover such a wide variety of books – I wonder if that dilutes the publicity the winners get? Lots of names that are unfamiliar to me but will read your blog to find out more. Some intriguing titles – The Australian Moment I guess is now and some bizarre ones, of course The Sex Lives Of Australians! The biography of Gough Whitlam might be interesting if it is well done.

    • June 18, 2013 11:03 pm

      Good question Ian. This award is probably still not as well known as the longer standing ones like the Miles Franklin, the Age Book of the Year, etc. Several awards here – such as The Age, the NSW Premiers, the Queensland Literary Awards (but not the Miles Franklin) – contain multiple categories. The Fiction winner usually gets the most publicity, with the articles/press releases saying, after announcing the fiction winner, “other winners are ….”!

      The sex lives of Australians is a rather “fetching” title isn’t it?

      I’ve gone to, and reported on, the awards panel – held the day the awards are announced – for the last 2-3 years. I hope they hold it again this year because I’ll do my darnedest to attend.

  4. Brian Joseph permalink
    June 21, 2013 12:56 pm

    Hi Sue – I have been looking around your blog. It is fantastic!

    This list of books looks to be so good. My only problem with these lists is that they frustrate me as at best I will only ever read a small fraction of the titles.

    In particular I have heard that Sandakan is a great book especially for those like myself who are interested in World War II.

    • June 21, 2013 5:08 pm

      Oh thanks Brian … I’ve only just discovered your blog too and like it BUT too many books eh? Sandakan sounds intriguing … I’m not an expert on WWII but I do tend to like many war-set novels. I tend not to read a lot of war histories.

  5. June 27, 2013 2:42 am

    So much variety! It kind of reminds me of the National Book Award in the US. Hope the winners are revealed soon!

    • June 27, 2013 11:05 am

      Oh yes, Stefanie, there is … quite a few of our literary awards have that sort of variety. It’s good seeing other forms being recognised. Even if for most of us our first interest is fiction, many of us are also interested in non-fiction, poetry etc aren’t we.

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