Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 26, 2012

2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award shortlist

The PM’s Literary Prize shortlist has been announced.  The press release follows:

2012 shortlists announced

The wait is over! The shortlists for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced.

In announcing the shortlisted entries, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean congratulated the shortlisted authors and producers noting that this was a very competitive year for the Awards with over five hundred entries across all the categories, including the inaugural poetry award and the newly incorporated Prize for Australian History.

The shortlists include a diverse range of entries from richly illustrated children’s books to powerful documentaries with themes as broad as alienation, family conflict, Indigenous history, memoirs and magical worlds.

This year’s fiction shortlist includes highly emotionally works and dark humour with a strong representation of historical fiction.

The shortlist for the inaugural poetry award – a welcome and important introduction to the Awards – includes strong and innovative works, continuing Australia’s rich tradition of the poetic voice.

The entries for the non-fiction category and newly incorporated Australian history prize include original and insightful works covering diverse topics, from Australia’s Indigenous history to what it is like to have your child diagnosed with autism.

In the young adult fiction category no subject was off limits. Many entries explored themes of adolescent turmoil with humour and compassion.

The children’s fiction category attracted creative entries that will fire children’s imaginations and develop their love of language and reading.

The 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists are:
Fiction shortlist [those in bold are also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award].
All That I Am by Anna Funder (see my review)
Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville (see my review)
Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears (see my review)
Autumn Laing by Alex Miller (see my review)
Forecast: Turbulence by Janette Turner Hospital (see my review)

Poetry shortlist
Ashes in the Air by Ali Alizadeh
Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies
Armour by John Kinsella
Southern Barbarians by John Mateer
New and Selected Poems by Gig Ryan

Non-fiction shortlist
A Short History of Christianity by Geoffrey Blainey
Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles by A J Brown
When Horse Became Saw: A Family’s Journey Through Autismby Anthony Macris
Kinglake-350 by Adrian Hyland
An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna (on my TBR)

Prize for Australian History shortlist
1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia by James Boyce (see my review)
The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage
Breaking the Sheep’s Back: The Shocking True Story of the Decline and Fall of the Australian Wool Industry by Charles Massy
Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation by Russell McGregor
Immigration Nation: The Secret History of Us by Renegade Films Australia Pty Ltd

Young adult fiction shortlist
A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon
Being Here by Barry Jonsberg
Pan’s Whisper by Sue Lawson
When We Were Two by Robert Newton
Alaska by Sue Saliba

Children’s fiction shortlist
Evangeline, The Wish Keeper’s Helper by Maggie Alderson
The Jewel Fish of Karnak by Graeme Base
Father’s Day by Anne Brooksbank
Come Down, Cat! by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson


  1. Thrilled to see Gillian Mears on the Fiction shortlist. I loved ‘Foal’s Bread’.
    Poetry? Go Gig Ryan! Gig and Les Murray are like bookends to the Australian Poetry scene, in my humble opinion.
    Do you have a favourite from the non-fiction list Lisa?


    • I’ve only read the one, but I really loved it. The others will have to be remarkably good to win instead IMO.


  2. […] The 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award shortlists have been announced […]


  3. Gosh, I feel well read as I have already read 3 out of 5 of the Fiction list. Of those All That I Am would probably be the front runner for me, but then Autumn Laing and Forecast: Turbulence sound promising. I have several of Janet Turner Hospital’s books languishing on my shelves so I might pick one up soon.


    • I was at the bookshop today and I forgot to buy Turbulence *smacks forehead*! But I did buy Hilary Mantel’s new one, and also The Censor’s Library, Uncovering the Lost History of Australia’s Banned Books by Nicole Moore – it looks like fun!


  4. I’m a little disappointed by the fiction list. All the titles seem so depressing. And Alex Miller is so over-awarded.


    • I don’t mind an author being over-awarded, but although I enjoyed it, I don’t think Autumn Laing is one of Miller’s best. I don’t know which of them I’d choose as a winner, and I’m glad I don’t have to!


      • Of course, I am happy to see an author awarded if I love their work. I guess I mean undeservedly over-rewarded when it comes to Alex Miller. His books do nothing for me at all. I would have liked to see The Street Sweeper scoop some awards this year. I think when books are set outside Australia they get overlooked. I think there is an obsession in Australian literary prizes for the content to be Australian and I find that restrictive.


        • Oh, I love most of his books. I love the way he writes about middle-aged women!


          • Ah well. Horses for courses, as they say :)


  5. […] wouldn’t you, that a book of short stories published by an Australian publishing company and shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards would be Australian stories written in Australian English?   Alas, no. This collection of short […]


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