Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 5, 2018

2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners were announced today, and I couldn’t be happier with their choices because two authors that I really admire have been recognised.

The 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners are:


Border Districts by Gerald Murnane, see my review and Steven Harmon’s article about this exquisite book at The Guardian. He quotes the judges panel:

The panel judging the fiction category praised Murnane for his “inimitable literary sensibility”, in “a perfectly formed short work” that is “associative rather than narrative”.
“The narrative is an exquisite prism of introspection, in which a life’s experiences are carefully ordered and transformed into art by virtue of the patterns they come to form in the mind and the profoundly evocative qualities they have acquired.
“Rendered in crystalline prose and touched with an elegiac pathos, Border Districts is the crowning achievement of a singular literary career.”

(I couldn’t have said it better myself!)

Australian History

John Curtin’s War: The coming of war in the Pacific, and, reinventing Australia, volume 1 by John Edwards, see the review at the SMH

Young Adult Literature

This is My Song by Richard Yaxley, see Aussie Reviews

Children’s Literature

Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.  I haven’t seen this, but I know it will be beautiful because these two have been collaborating to create the most beautiful picture books for a long time, and the children I read their stories absolutely loved them.


Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria by Brian Castro, see my review


Asia’s Reckoning: The struggle for global dominance by Richard McGregor, see the review by Anna Fifield at Australian Foreign Affairs

The following is from the press release:

The Australian history and non-fiction books “reflect the diversity of Australia and tell our story in remarkable ways. The books really show Australia’s place in the world and place Australian history in a global context,” said Professor Lynette Russell, Chair of the Non-fiction and Australian History judging panel.

The children’s and young adults categories engage with “issues that profoundly affect humanity… there’s a variety of ideas, of narrative techniques, of illustration techniques, which makes them very, very different, but all equally interesting,” said Margot Hillel, Chair of the Young Adult and Children’s Literature judging panel.

Now in its eleventh year, the Awards celebrate Australian literary excellence and recognise our talented authors, illustrators and historians.

“There were novels that really worked to create an experience for the reader that’s immersive, that you can get lost in— but also transformative, that change us for having read them,” said Bronwyn Lea, Chair of the Fiction and Poetry judging panel.

“The poetry category this year was notable for the sheer breadth of work being done in Australia, it’s quite astonishing and it shows that poetry is very much alive and a vibrant art form in Australia.”

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers, and especially to Ivor Indyk at Giramondo who has been a champion of Gerald Murnane’s, and who encouraged him to keep writing when Murnane himself thought it was time to retire.


  1. You’ve been championing both Gerald Murnane and Brian Castro for years, haven’t you. I must confess that I haven’t read any Gerald Murnane (although I do have him on my shelf), and I haven’t read Castro’s poetry though I have read a couple of his fiction books. I haven’t read the Australian history one, although I have read John Edward’s earlier book on Curtin, ‘Curtin’s Gift’ which I enjoyed. I wonder if the argument is much the same in the two books (have to read it to find out, I suppose!)


    • Yes, I’m really pleased by these wins because both Castro and Murnane haven’t had the recognition they should have because they write challenging books. But they are works of genius. Murnane has been recognised by the Melbourne Prize, but Castro isn’t eligible for that because he’s not from Victoria.

      FWIW back in 2011 I wrote a post about three authors (Murnane, Castro and Ouyung Yu) who I thought should be considered for the Nobel Prize: and I discovered after I’d written it, that there were erudite people who thought so too, about Murnane. So there’s grounds for thinking he’s on the Nobel Prize radar, and imagine how stupid we would look if he won it and he’d never won any of our major prizes…

      I was hoping you’d reviewed the NF ones. Let me know when you do and I’ll add the link:)


  2. So glad that Gerald Murnane won at last.


    Tony Kevin

    Sent from my iPad



    • Me too! You could probably hear the cheers!
      BTW *sigh* ABC Online still isn’t reporting it…


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