Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 2, 2019

2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists

The 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlists were announced today.

Category winners receive $25,000 and are eligible for the overall Victorian Prize for Literature, worth an additional $100,000, (the most valuable literary award in Australia).

You can vote for the People’s Choice Award(worth $2000) here until 5pm Monday 20 January 2020.

The winners will be announced in 2020.

Fiction, worth $25,000 to the winner

  • Act of Grace by Anna Krien (Black Inc.), see my review
  • Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas (Allen & Unwin)
  • Simpson Returns by Wayne Macauley (Text Publishing), on my TBR, see my review
  • The House of Youssef by Yumna Kassab (Giramondo Publishing), on my TBR, short stories, abandoned at page 64. See Kim’s review at Reading Matters.
  • The Yield by Tara June Winch (Penguin Random House), see my review

Non-fiction, worth $25,000 to the winner

  • Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us about Digital Technology by Lizzie O’Shea (Verso)
  • Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse by Jess Hill (Black Inc.)
  • Songspirals: Sharing women’s wisdom of Country through songlines by Gay’wu Group of Women (Allen & Unwin)
  • Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Girls by Chloe Higgins (Picador Australia)

Drama, worth $25,000 to the winner

  • City of Gold by Meyne Wyatt (Currency Press, in association with Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre)
  • Counting and Cracking by S.Shakthidharan and Associate Writer Eamon Flack (Belvoir and Co-Curious)
  • Them by Samah Sabawi (La Mama Theatre, in association with Samah Sabawi and Lara Week)

Poetry, worth $25,000 to the winner

  • Birth Plan by L.K. Holt (Vagabond Press)
  • Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Cordite Books)
  • Yuiquimbiang by Louise Crisp (Cordite Books)

Writing for Young Adults, worth $25,000 to the winner

  • How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard (Fremantle Press)
  • This is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)

Unpublished Manuscript, worth $15,000 to the winner

  • A Million Things by Emily Spurr
  • Hovering by Rhett Davis
  • In Real Life by Allee Richards

Highly commended

Hmmm, no fiction in the Highly Commended section?


Castaway: The extraordinary survival story of Narcisse Pelletier, a young French cabin boy shipwrecked on Cape York in 1858 by Robert Macklin (Hachette Australia)

The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia by Tim Bonyhady (Text Publishing)

The Thinking Woman by Julienne van Loon (NewSouth Publishing)


  • Anthem by Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas and Irine Vela (Performing Lines in association with Arts Centre Melbourne)
  • White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King (Samuel French, in association with Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta)


Archival-Poetics by Natalie Harkin (Vagabond Press)

The Future Keepers by Nandi Chinna (Fremantle Press)

Young Adult

  • Highway Bodies by Alison Evans (Echo Publishing)
  • Where the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn (Allen & Unwin)

Unpublished Manuscript

  • I’ll hold you by Jenni Mazaraki

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers!


  1. I saw this come through, but decided since I haven’t yet read any of the shortlisted books, and have my Monday Musings planned, I’d leave it to you! After all, you are Victorian! I do expect to read Winch and Tsiolkas at least, and may or may not get to the other novels.


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