Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 15, 2013

2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Award winners

The 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced today and …


The winning titles are:

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser, (Allen & Unwin), see my review

Jam Tree Gully: Poems by John Kinsella, (W W Norton)

The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis, (Viking)

Prize for Australian History
Farewell, Dear People by Ross McMullin, (Scribe)

Young adult fiction
Fog a Dox by Bruce Pascoe, (Magabala Books), see my review at LisaHillSchoolStuff 

Children’s fiction
Red (Libby Gleeson, A&U).

I really like the way these awards also include prizes for the shortlisted authors: winners receive a tax-free cash prize of $80,000, but short-listed authors also receive $5000 tax-free.

The shortlists were strong this year:

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

Non-fiction shortlist

  • Bradman’s War by Malcolm Knox
  • Uncommon Soldier by Chris Masters
  • Plein Airs and Graces by Adrian Mitchell, see my review
  • 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
  • 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. still don’t know how question of travel missed the booker longlist ,all the best stu


    • I don’t either. I think Australian books just drop off the radar sometimes…even when they’re truly great books like this one.


  2. Another well-deserved win. I’m pleased for her and for the book itself. Even though I really liked Mateship, as with the MF, I thought Questions was more deserving. Your reviews and blog posts are a great read, thanks Lisa.


    • Thanks, Jenny:) I agree about Mateship with Birds, I like ‘edgy’ books too. I wonder what it’s like to be a judge of these awards … it must be very difficult.


      • It must be difficult but they would have – you hope – an agreed-upon list of fairly strict criteria? It would be about triangulating several absolute essentials, eg for the MF it has to be ‘Australian’ or representative of Australian life, that’s the only criteria we know of. For the Stella, it has to be a female author, again, that’s all we know. And obviously they have to be to an extremely high standard. Although, as you’ve touched on in an earlier post, some novels make it onto shortlists with a lack of robustness, eg Floundering (agree with your thoughts on that one too!) A pretty good debut but… flawed. Or do you think the judge’s tick-box would be looser?


        • I really don’t know, and frankly, given the amount of money involved, I think that the process should be more transparent.


  3. I’ve only read Mateship with Birds. I’d agree with the judges that Questions of Travel is a stronger book

    Sent from my iPad, odd punctuation and spelling is iPad s keyboard fault. Cheers Carol


    • What’s pleasing, it that there seems to be widespread agreement that the judges got it right this time:)


  4. It is nice to know that Michelle de Kretser’s book won the fiction award. I loved your review of it. I hope to read the book sometime. Being a cricket fan, I was hoping that ‘Bradman’s War’ would win the nonfiction prize :) Thanks for posting this list, Lisa. There are more wonderful books getting added to my TBR list now.


    • Ha ha, Vishy, maybe you will catch up with the number of Indian titles I’ve got on my TBR now!


      • That would be a good dream to aim at, to catch up with your Indian TBR list :) I have already ordered ‘Three Dollars’ by Elliot Perlman and it is on its way :) Can’t wait to read it!


        • I’ll be very interested to see how it resonates in an Indian context.


          • Can’t wait to read it :)


  5. I was sorry that there was no event this year to go with the announcement – at least not that I heard – as there have been for at least the last two years. I suspect it had something to do with Simon Crean’s sudden departure. My sense is that that threw the awards into disarray. At least that’s how it seemed to me as it all ran a bit late this year. I hope the awards continue if you know who gets in!


    • Yikes! I never thought of ‘budget cuts’ impacting on these awards …


      • Well, after seeing what happened with Campbell Newman, anything is likely, but fingers crossed, let’s hope not.


        • I hope you’ve done your postal vote!


          • Oh no don’t even speak to me about this! I’ll email you with my RANT.


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