Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 17, 2013

2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

The 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists were announced today:

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

  • Burning Rice by Eileen Chong
  • The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson
  • Jam Tree Gully: Poems by John Kinsella
  • Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden, see Amber Beilharz’s Guest Review
  • Crimson Crop by Peter Rose

Non-fiction shortlist

  • Bradman’s War by Malcolm Knox
  • Uncommon Soldier by Chris Masters
  • Plein Airs and Graces by Adrian Mitchell, see my review
  • The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis
  • Bold Palates by Barbara Santich, , see my review

Prize for Australian history shortlist

  • 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 , see my review

Young adult fiction shortlist

Children’s fiction shortlist

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

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers!


  1. I can’t help thinking some of the titles on this list are there more because of the profile of the author than the actual book – though I am a fan of much of Carey’s work I thought The Chemistry of Tears was deeply flawed. Interesting to see Floundering appear again here too.


    • Ah, interesting what you say about the Carey: I loved his early work but lost interest in his stuff after he moved to New York. But I was enchanted by The Chemistry of Tears, it seemed like a return to the quirky young Carey whose books I really liked. But Floundering, hmm, well, it’s on all the shortlists but I think it’s rather ordinary. There must be something in it that has escaped me LOL.


  2. I think I’d better move Floundering higher up on my ‘to read’ list. What an extraordinary achievement for a first novel. And your comments make it even more intriguing.


  3. thanks for sharing Lisa ,all the best stu


    • just wondering, Stu: is there a PM’s lit award in the UK?


      • No should be really we very bad at arts things here


        • *chuckle*
          Maybe when the economy picks up you could start a campaign!


  4. ‘The Chemistry of Tears’, ‘Questions of Travel’ and ‘Burning Rice’ are such beautiful titles! I want to read all of them. I also want to read ‘Bradman’s War’. It seems to tell the famous story from a non-traditional point of view. The Australian edition doesn’t seem to be available here. Need to wait for the international edition. Thanks for this post, Lisa. I knew about the Miles Franklin award but I didn’t know about the Prime Minister’s awards. For me, it is a wonderful way to discover new and exciting Australian writers.


    • Hi Vishy:)
      What awards do you have in your part of the world?


      • There are four major literary awards in India, Lisa. The first one is the Sahitya Academy award, which is given to one literary work in each Indian language, every year. (Currently one book in each of the 24 Indian languages gets the prize. So 24 books win the award every year.). The award doesn’t differentiate between categories – novels, poetry collections, drama, literary criticism, biography, historical works, they all compete for the same award. (I know this doesn’t sound too logical, but because of the number of languages around, the awarding committee settled for this model). The Sahitya Academy Award is sponsored by the Sahitya Academy which is a government body made up of writers. The second major award is the Jnanpith award which is sponsored by a newspaper group. This is given to one writer every year. These two awards have been around for a while.

        In recent years, two new awards have come up. One is called The Hindu Literary Prize. This is given to the best novel written in English. It has a longlist / shortlist system like other international awards and there is a two-day literary fest at the end of which the winner is announced. A writer has to be an Indian citizen to be eligible. The second new literary award is the DSC prize for South Asian literature which is given during the Jaipur Literary festival. The eligibility criteria for this award is more broader – a writer of any nationality writing in any language is eligible :) (provided the novel is available in English translation). The only real restriction is that the novel should be about South Asia. The DSC prize also has a longlist / shortlist system.


        • I knew about the DSC (I follow that one on Facebook) but not the others. You’ll let us know about them on your blog, won’t you?


          • Okay :) Nice to know that you follow the DSC.


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