Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 23, 2019

2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winner

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have just been announced.  Winners are in bold.

I’m not very excited about their NF choices.  I’m sure the book about last century writers on Hydra must be interesting, but this is a lost opportunity to promote NF books on topical issues.  I would have chosen Chan’s or Hooper’s.  And the one about the Bible, of all things, when they could have chosen Clare Wright’s book about women’s suffrage?? I wonder if that was a Captain’s Pick?

A Stolen Season, by Rodney Hall (my review)
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (my review)
Saudade by Suneeta Peres da Costa (my review)
Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

A Certain Light: A memoir of family, loss and hope, by Cynthia Banham
Rusted off: Why Country Australia is fed up, by Gabrielle Chan
Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964, by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell
The Arsonist: A mind on fire, by Chloe Hooper (my review)
Axiomatic, by Maria Tumarkin (see Sue’s review at Whispering Gums)

Australian history
Deep time dreaming: Uncovering ancient Australia, by Billy Griffiths
Dancing in Shadows: Histories of Nyungar performance, by Anna Haebich
The Land of Deams: How Australians won their freedom, 1788-1860, by David Kemp
The Bible in Australia: A cultural history, by Meredith Lake
You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians who won the vote and inspired the world, by Clare Wright (my review)

Sun Music by Judith Beveridge
Click Here for What We Do by Pam Brown
Newcastle Sonnets by Keri Glastonbury
Viva the Real by Jill Jones
Blakwork by Alison Whitaker

Young Adult
Between Us by Clare Atkins
The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer
Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee
The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
Cicada by Shaun Tan

For Children’s Literature, see the award website.

The winners will be announced on October 23rd.


  1. I can finally sit normally at my desk with laptop and look at some blogposts! The award season has started and wonderful to have you reference posts.
    AUS history: my choice would have been “Deep Time Dreaming”. I learned so much about the Aboriginals from that book….captivating!
    Poetry: Judith Beveridge is a new author to explore.
    NF: Read two in the choices….not my winners…so I will have to investigate the rest of the books in this category.
    Fiction: Read ” Too Much Lip” and enjoyed it….but the other books are blind dates!
    Enough to winter reading to look forward to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Nancy it’s so good to have you back! Hopefully you will be on the mend soon and back to all your old pursuits:)
      I would have liked You Daughters of Freedom to Win, but I’m also interested in Deep Time Dreaming, and in NF, Rusted off: Why Country Australia is fed up.
      Judith Beveridge was president of our local Melbourne PEN when I joined, she is a lovely person and I am glad she has received this recognition.


  2. I read somewhere (reputable) that although the Prime Minister is offered the final say, this year there was no ‘Captain’s pick’. So it was all on the judges. Interesting choices, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How interesting… you know that next time we catch up I shall pick your brains to find out who your source is!


  3. Hmm, quite interesting decisions made there. I am glad that The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer made it!


  4. I read Half the Perfect World and enjoyed it very much; it also has some fascinating photographs of Charmian Clift, George Johnston, Leonard Cohen and many others

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I said, I’m sure it is interesting, I love literary bios myself and I’ve got Gary Kinnane’s bio of Johnson on my TBR, but (it’s just my personal opinion) I think the PM’s award has a role to play in drawing attention to NF books on topical issues…


  5. Finally got my post up, as have been driving then socialising all day in the gorgeous NSW SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS. Thanks for the links.

    I can’t really comment as I haven’t read enough but of course I had my preferences. I’m interested, of course, in Hydra. The history choice is interesting, and not what I was hoping, but the Bible one could be good, relevant history. I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes.
      There’s nothing here that makes you want to rush out and buy the NF books IMO.
      I predicted that Jones would win, because she’s been the bridesmaid so, so often!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m really interested in the Hydra one because of those writers and those times.


        • Well I am too because I’ve read Clift and Johnson – but I don’t know how well-known either of them are to today’s younger readers…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Haven’t read any of the fiction nominees and agree with you regarding the nonfiction list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can certainly recommend the ones I’ve read:)


  7. The. Non fiction choice of Hydra does seem strange when you look at the other options. It obviously had something about it that th judges thought remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well yes, it interests me more than the one about the bible, that’s for sure!


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