Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 5, 2020

2020 Queensland Literary Awards shortlist

The Queensland Literary Awards shortlist was announced today.

Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance     

Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award

  • Sara El Sayed
  • Zenobia Frost
  • Ellen Wengert
  • Yen-Rong Wong

 The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

  • Bedlam at Botany Bay by James Dunk (NewSouth Publishing)
  • Olive Cotton: A Life in Photography by Helen Ennis (HarperCollins)
  • Friends and Rivals by Brenda Niall (Text Publishing)
  • Truganini by Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin) on my TBR, see Janine’s review at The Resident Judge of Port Phillip
  • The Watermill by Arnold Zable (Text Publishing)

Griffith University Children’s Book Award

  • Detention by Tristan Bancks (Penguin Random House)
  • Winston and the Wondrous Wooba Gymnastics Club by Tamsin Janu (Omnibus Books)
  • Fly by Jess McGeachin (Penguin Random House)
  • Nop by Caroline Magerl (Walker Books)
  • As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey (UQP)

Griffith University Young Adult Book Award

  • Deep Water by Sarah Epstein (Allen & Unwin)
  • Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller (UQP), on my TBR
  • How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones (HarperCollins)
  • It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood (Text Publishing)
  • This Is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)

 University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection

  • A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop (Text Publishing)
  • Lucky Ticket by Joey Bui (Text Publishing)
  • The House of Youssef by Yumna Kassab (Giramondo Publishing), see Kim’s review at Reading Matters.
  • A Couple of Things Before the End by Sean O’Beirne (Black Inc.)
  • Here Until August by Josephine Rowe (Black Inc.)

 Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection

  • Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness by Peter Boyle (Vagabond Press)
  • Lyre by Stuart Cooke (UWA Publishing)
  • Heide by Pi.O (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Throat by Ellen van Neerven (UQP)
  • Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Cordite Books)

 David Unaipon Award for an Emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Writer

  • ‘The Space Between the Paperbark’ by Jazz Money (poetry, NSW)
  • ‘Valley of Cane and Crows’ by Boyd Quakawoot (novel, Queensland)
  • ‘Last Rites of Spring’ by Mykaela Saunders (novel, Victoria)
  • ‘Burn’ by Melanie Saward (novel, Queensland)

 Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer

  • ‘The Solitary Light’ by Bianca Millroy
  • ‘Daddy & Other Father Figures’ by Jonathan O’Brien
  • ‘If You’re Happy’ by Fiona Robertson
  • ‘Without a Word’ by Jenny Ruge
  • ‘As We Knew It’ by Siall Waterbright

The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award

  • A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird (Penguin Random House)
  • The Kowloon Kid by Phil Brown (Transit Lounge) , see my review
  • A River with a City Problem by Margaret Cook (UQP)
  • Feeding the Birds at Your Table by Darryl Jones (NewSouth Publishing)
  • Meet Me at Lennon’s by Melanie Myers (UQP)
  • The Breeding Season by Amanda Niehaus (Allen & Unwin)
  • Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe (UQP)

 Thanks to Shout Communications for the press release and the handy images of the shortlisted books!


  1. I just acquired the Olive Cotton photography book. Not had time to read it yet. I thought Truganini was very good. I have heard a lot about the Yield and read your review. Will look forward to how it comes out. 😁☕


    • Oh, please tell us more about the Olive Cotton… is it mainly text or mainly photos?


  2. Hi Lisa, what interesting lists.I have read a few of the books nominated. I didn’t like Truganini, but did enjoy The Returns, Meet me at Lennon’s, and The Yield. Sean O’Beirne’s short stories, A Couple of Things Before the End, are excellent.


    • I loved The Returns. It’s a shame it’s up against The Yield (as it was in the Miles Franklin) because it would have been a serious contender for the prize.
      I don’t know why I haven’t read the one by Mirandi Riwoe. I haven’t even got it on my TBR because I didn’t know about it. Maybe I’ve fallen off the radar of UQP’s publicist…


  3. Interesting list. I’ve only read Meet me at Lennon’s, Hearing Maud and The yield. I’d really like to read Riwoe’s book, and also Alice Bishop’s The constant hum, which I bought at Healesville in February, back before all my sadnesses, and back when we could travel.


    • Ah yes, I should have remembered that you’d reviewed Meet Me at Lennon’s, I’ve added it now.
      You are in that awful place, Sue, where there is Before, and After, and your heart aches for Before. It will never go away, but it does get easier, I promise you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am, and thanks Lisa. I guess I know it will but I think I still have a foot in the year of magical thinking!


  4. I was given Joe Gorman’s book about rugby league as a birthday present. It is one of the best books about sport that I have ever read, exploring the relationships between rugby league, politics and sociology.


    • One of the things I’ve noticed in the media (and you know that I have no interest in sport at all) is that throughout the initial lockdown when no sport was being played at all, anywhere in the world, the sports segment of the ABC TV and radio news was unaffected. Nothing was happening, but they still managed to pad out their time slot night after night. It was the same at ABC Online and at The Guardian. It shows you how much power they have within their media organisations that with COVID taking up nearly all the news time, so that we had no news about anything else, sport, which was not happening, was still being reported.
      And other things were happening which were not reported, even domestically. In my neck of the woods, level crossing works were being completed, ahead of schedule, a nice bit of badly needed good news for those of us who knew about it. I expect the usual awful things were happening too: natural disasters, civil wars, and so on. But we heard nothing about them.


  5. A work of “State” significance is an “interesting” way to describe a book prize.


    • LOL Claire, there are Queenslanders who read this blog, so I’d better be careful what I say,,, suffice to note that observers say that up north, they tend to think of themselves as Queenslanders more than as Australians and that becomes more true the further north you go.


  6. I loved Stone Sky Gold Mountain and also enjoyed Meet Me at Lennons.
    Here’s my review for Stone, if you were chasing one:
    I feel rather pleased that I’ve read a couple from that particular category of the shortlist!


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