Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 31, 2019

2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

The 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were announced tonight.

It was an epic fail for ANZ LitLovers: the only book I’d read and reviewed was by Taboo by Kim Scott. which won the Prize for Indigenous Writing.  I did better on the shortlists, see my post about those titles here. There is some excellent reading among them.

Victorian Prize for Literature ($100,000) and Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize for Non-Fiction,($25,2000)
No Friend But the Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison, by Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian

(Ironically, I’m writing this post late at night, because I’ve just been to see a great play called Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. There are two more performances in Melbourne, and some tickets are still available.  Get there if you can.)

Prize for Fiction
The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida

Prize for Drama
The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver

Prize for Poetry
Tilt by Kate Lilley’s

Prize for Writing for Young Adults
Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Prize for Indigenous Writing
Taboo by Kim Scott

Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript
Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

People’s Choice Award
Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee.



  1. I’m happy for the winner, but you’d have to suspect the award was more political than literary. Not sure I’m happy about one of our principal authors, Kim Scott, being given a consolation prize.


  2. I’ve read Taboo and Tilt. Everything I’ve heard about No Friend but the Mountains makes me believe it’s a worthy winner – and would win other prizes as well if the rules allowed it to be entered (after all, though he’s not a citizen or permanent resident, Behrouz Boochani is definitely part of the Australian literary community, and looks like remaining so for too long).


  3. Interesting . . . I am usually more aware of the titles, but I’ve not heard of some of this year’s. Funny the tricks the mind plays; I thought Taboo had been around much too long for it to have been in this awards list. I guess I read it early on and have just heard so much about it over a period of time.


  4. Epic fail here too. I have head quite a bit about No friend but the mountains too. And it’s great to see indigenous authors win the YA prize. Overall, quite a different list to the one we’ve seen from all the other awards, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

    I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t even heard of the winner of the Prize for Fiction.


  5. *Ouch* WP just ate my reply to Bill, so I’ll try again so I’ll ‘reply all’ instead….

    Worthy winners or not, I think we’re seeing an agenda happening here. It’s odd: I think you’d have to agree that I do a reasonable job of keeping up with what’s new in LitFic, My stats show that I read 85 new releases in 2018 and I had serious trouble whittling down my Best Books All Australian longlist into a shortlist. Yet, for the second year in a row, (a) I had barely read any of the shortlist for this award, (b) my friends in the blogosphere hadn’t either so I couldn’t link to any of their reviews and (c) I don’t particularly want to read any of these because as the Wheeler Centre report says ( mental health and trauma are the dominant themes.

    I have serious trouble understanding why at least some of the new releases I read last year have been so comprehensively ignored. (see

    So we have to ask ourselves, are we out of touch and reading the wrong books? Or, is there something about the zeitgeist?

    Whatever, I’m off to lunch now… talk later!


    • Well, you know, it is YOUR Melbourne so I couldn’t possibly comment! Haha!

      Seriously though, I really can’t comment. It is surprising given all that you read, but on the other hand, as mathematicians would probably say a couple of aberrations are not statistically significant. You might have to look at, say, 5 years in a row to draw some conclusions?

      Meanwhile, a question. Did last year and this year have the same judges? And regardless, who are they? Are they more “diverse” than (or significantly different to) the average judging panel?


      • I don’t know who the judges are. Before I went to lunch I had a quick look at this year’s and I only recognised one name so I can’t draw any conclusions about diversity or expertise or anything else. I’m only looking at the results…


        • I’ve just looked them up. I don’t know many either, though a couple rang a vague bell. I do know two of the four fiction ones though… Abigail Ulman who has been well reviewed for her recent short story collection (Hot little hands, or something like that) and Chris Womersly whom I know you’ve reviewed but I’ve only read some short works by.


          • Yes, I know Chris, I met him at the MF awards night when it was here in Melbourne. Nice bloke!


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