Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 1, 2017

2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners

The 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced.   (Perhaps they thought they’d better get on with it before the speculation about a change of leader erupts into another instalment of the revolving door of Australian prime ministers, eh?)

And the winners are:

Fiction: Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (see my review)

Poetry: Headwaters by Anthony Lawrence

Non Fiction: Quicksilver by Nicolas Rothwell

Australian History: Atomic Thunder by Elizabeth Tynan

Young Adult: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Children’s Lit: Bob Graham and Wendy Orr

FWIW these are the shortlisted titles that I’ve reviewed:


The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam (see my review)

The Last Days of Ava Langdon by Mark O’Flynn (see my review)

Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (see my review)

Waiting by Philip Salom (see my review)

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson (see my review)


Non Fiction

Mick, a Life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner (on my wishlist)

The Art of Time Travel, Historians and their Craft, by Tom Griffiths (see my review)

Our Man Elsewhere, in search of Alan Moorehead by Thornton McAmish (on my TBR)



  1. I managed to get my hands on a copy of Extinctions. That title is the one that appeals to me the most from the list.


    • Yay, I look forward to hearing what you think of it!


  2. The only poet on the list I haven’t been able to secure an interview with (to date). Stay tuned for two upcoming interviews and check the blog flor Eileen Chong and Antigone Kefala interviews conducted earlier this year.

    Now to hunt Mr Lawrence down…

    Congrats to all the winners


    • Oh that is so not fair when you’ve been so assiduous in profiling poets on your blog!
      I think, if it’s the same writer, that I’ve read a novel by Anthony Lawrence …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, the Randolph Stow book is on my wishlist too. And. I’ve just realised that Our man elsewhere is about the father of Caroline Moorehead whose book I reviewed earlier this week. My reading group discussed the fact that her father was Alan Moorehead, but it hadn’t registered until now that one of the shortlisted books was about him! I’m more intrigued now, to read it!

    And my these awards came suddenly. One minute I heard that they were going to be done at Parliament House not the NLA because of works being done at the NLA right now, and next minute I’m driving in the car and hearing that they’re being announced RIGHT NOW.


    • I know! One minute I was looking at a tweet reminding me to look at the shortlist and then they were tweeting the winners! LOL Maybe the NLA knows something we don’t about politics!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t like the premise underlying Their Brilliant Careers in particular, but also Ava Langdon. It seemed to me during the year – reading reviews – that Extinctions was much better Literary Fiction than those first two.


    • Well, I liked Ava Langdon. I am a bit ambivalent about creative non-fiction but I thought it was respectful of Eve Langley and beautifully written. But Their Brilliant Careers was a bit cliquey for me: maybe if I had a more scholarly knowledge of Australian books and writing I would have got more of the jokes but I didn’t really enjoy it much.


      • I can’t really comment on the comparative merits of the books you both talk about, but I do like the fact that these awards often – though not always – go a little left field. Given the wealth of our literature and the fact that literary awards are, by definition, subjective, I like seeing the accolades spread around a bit.


        • Yes, I agree, but what I’d like is more transparency about the criteria.


          • Fair point Lisa. But it’s made me wonder about other awards. We all know about the MF criteria, but I’m not sure most of the others say anything specific – beyond things like “high literary merit”? Do you have some good examples of clear criteria?


            • No, I don’t, not really. The Melbourne Prize is one that’s for a body of work by a Victorian writer, but I’ve never been able to figure out what the criteria for ‘Victorian’ is. The Patrick White award is for an underappreciated writer; the MUBA is for one that’s underrated, and so on. But it’s quite noticeable that outstanding writers like Gerald Murnane and Brian Castro get nominated for prizes but never seem to win them, so I think there is some kind of unwritten rule involving excellence and accessibility!


              • Yes, it does feel a bit like that doesn’t it? I’d love to be a fly on the wall at some of the judge’s discussions.


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