Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 17, 2016

2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist

Update 19/10/16 I’ve added a link to Tony’s poetry review at Messenger’s Booker.  He’s hoping to review them all before the winners are announced so I’ll be adding links as they occur.

Update 18/10/16: I’ve added in the publishers, who deserve credit too.

The 2016 shortlist features both well-known authors and newcomers:


Forever Young, Steven Carroll, Harper Collins, 2015, see my review
The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton, Giramondo, 2015,  see my review
The World Repair Video Game, David Ireland AM, Island Magazine, 2015, (I wanted this, but it was a limited edition and with postage as well, too expensive for my budget) #update 1/12/16 see my review, thanks to the generosity of Tony from Messenger’s Booker
Quicksand, Steve Toltz,  Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2015, see my review
The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin, 2015, see combined reviews  


(I don’t review poetry, but Tony at Messenger’s Booker does, so I will be adding links to his reviews of these collections as they become available.)

Net Needle, Robert Adamson, Black Inc, 2015, see Tony’s review at Messenger’s Booker
Cocky’s Joy, Michael Farrell, Giramondo, 2015, see Tony’s review and an interview with the poet at Messenger’s Booker
The Hazards, Sarah Holland-Batt, UQP, 2015, see Tony’s review at Messenger’s Booker
Waiting for the Past, Les Murray AO, Black Inc, 2015, see Tony’s review at Messenger’s Booker
The Ladder, Simon West, Puncher & Wattmann, 2015, see Tony’s review at Messenger’s Booker

Australian History
The Story of Australia’s People. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia, Geoffrey Blainey AC, Viking Penguin, 2015
Let My People Go: The untold story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland, Hybrid Publishers, 2015
Red Professor:  The Cold War Life of Fred Rose, Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt, Wakefield Press, 2015
Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life, Doug Morrissey, Connor Court, 2015
The War with Germany: Volume III—The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War, Robert Stevenson, Oxford University Press, 2015


Tom Roberts and the Art of Portraiture, Julie Cotter, Thames & Hudson, 2015
On Stalin’s Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Melbourne University Press, 2015
Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather, Karen Lamb, UQP, 2015, see my review
Second Half First, Drusilla Modjeska, Penguin, 2015 
Island Home
, Tim Winton, Penguin, 2015

Children’s Fiction

Adelaide’s Secret World, Elise Hurst, Allen & Unwin, 2015
Sister Heart, Sally Morgan, remantle Press, 2015
Perfect, Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood, Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015
The Greatest Gatsby: A visual book of grammar, Tohby Riddle, Penguin, 2015
Mr Huff, Anna Walker, Penguin Books, 2015

Young Adult Fiction

Becoming Kirrali Lewis, Jane Harrison, Magabala Books, 2015
Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Allen & Unwin, 2015
A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay, Walker Books, 2015
Inbetween Days, Vikki Wakefield, Text publishing, 2015
Green Valentine, Lili Wilkinson, Allen & Unwin, 2015

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers!

PS You can read the media release and visit for more information about the shortlisted books and to see the judges’ comments.

PPS Thanks for ArtsWorks for a user friendly media release!


  1. Thanks for being so timely with your announcement. As usual I will endeavour to get to the potty shortlist before the award announcements (I’ve read and reviewed “The Hazards”) I’ll probably leave it at that this year.


    • Great, I was hoping you would. Will DM you about this…

      Liked by 1 person

      • All shortlisted titles purchased – reviews will be forthcoming. There looks to be a few very promising titles there (Les Murray one I should have already received from the “Poetry Society” in the UK, however they just seem to take subscriptions & not send any of the promised works – T.S. Eliot would turn in his grave if he knew).


        • Funny, you should say that, I have subs to a publishing crowd in the UK and I don’t seem to get the books I was expecting either…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. We’re thrilled that one of our books, ‘Let My People Go’ has been chosen for the shortlist!


    • Yay for Hybrid Publishers! Congratulations, well done!


  3. Great to see Charlotte’s book on there, and also the Steve Toltz, even though I think you and I agreed, Lisa, that it went a bit funny somewhere in the middle, and I got a bit impatient with it, still, regardless, I really like his writing. Was it you? Or was it Sue maybe? I shall re-read your review now!


  4. I am happy about Charlotte, and about Steve Toltz too. I think both are worthy for their ambition and themes though I did get a bit impatient with Quicksand part-way through, but I found it funny and refreshing to read. I’m mostly happy though because the shortlist has appeared at all!


    • Ooh yeah, I think most of us have given up on the idea of the PM’s literary awards having a regular schedule, but this year there was the added anxiety that it would fall to budget cuts.


      • Did people really think that might happen? I guess it was a possibility, especially considering what else has gone on this year with funding. What I find interesting too is how same shortlists can be, and then how different. It’s reassuring to think there are (of course) different judges and different criteria with each.


        • LOL Maybe I just hang out with pessimists? No, seriously, it’s been mentioned here and there and not just on the litblogs I read. I think the anxiety about it gets fed by the cavalier way the dates are shuffled around, but also by the prevailing threats to the arts generally and specifically by the way this government has refused to support other industries, notably the car industry. (I still can’t quite grasp that we don’t have the capacity to manufacture cars here any more).
          Anyway, they’ve survived for another year and I like their choices because they’ve stepped outside the box.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Go Steve Toltz!


  6. Well that’s annoying – two comments. But they aren’t exact duplicates!


    • Both of them went through to moderation, which was strange because you’ve been commenting here for ages and ages (thanks for that!).


  7. I always like the PM’s Literary Awards because they often do deviate a little from what’s been going around the traps – not totally but different enough to show some different ideas involved. This is the third year now, I think, that they’ve done the shortlist late in the year so perhaps this is going to be their spot?


    • I don’t think their spot can ever be secure because it’s always going to have to fit around elections, which are called at a PM’s whim…

      Liked by 1 person

      • No you’re right, of course, but for now they seem to have settled into a plan even if it might have to change on a whim!


        • Theoretically *amused smile* they should be able to settle into a routine for 3 years around an election in the fourth, but hey, *chortle* with our revolving door governments lately, who knows!

          Liked by 1 person

        • IMO the problem is its name, and the same goes for the various Premiers’ prizes too. It should be taken out of the PM/Premier’s orbit and named the Australia Prize, the Victoria Prize, the ACT Prize etc.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Though perhaps if the government is funding them it’s best that the name makes that transparent?


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