Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 1, 2020

2020 Barbara Jefferis Award shortlist

Here’s the shortlist for one of my favourite awards: the 2020 Barbara Jefferis Award, named for one of the ASA’s founding members, Barbara Jefferis, and set up with a bequest by her husband John Hinde.

The Barbara Jefferis Award celebrates women in literature and is awarded biennially for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society.” It is one of Australia’s most generous literary prizes, with a $50,000 prize for the winner, and $5,000 distributed amongst the shortlist.

I’ve read all the shortlisted novels:

  • The White Girl by Tony Birch (UQP), see my review
  • Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (UQP), see my review
  • There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett (Hachette Australia), see my review
  • Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar (Pan Macmillan Australia), see my review
  • The Yield by Tara June Winch (Penguin Random House Australia), see my review

From the ASA website:

…judges Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright, Dr Jeremy Fisher and Barbara Horgan were deeply impressed by the diversity and talent of this creative pool:

“We were very much struck by the empathy with which the experiences of older women were depicted as powerful role models for those younger than them in so many titles – women who were survivors of both personal and family challenges and cataclysmic social, economic or environmental events. In several works, the experiences of children and young adults were also artfully and subtly traced, not only in those published for a teenage audience, but also in many of the novels published for adults.

Climate change, the effects of wars in many arenas, family break-up and violence, aging and dementia, were threads explored in works entered, in genres including historical fiction, rite of passage, and dystopian futures. In many of these, though, such serious issues were leavened by an exuberant sense of humour and often provocative wit, even in the direst of circumstances. The narrative voices created were of immense power.

We were challenged by judging two years of publication, where any one year in Australian publishing yields such treasures. But after much deliberation we settled on five outstanding works to shortlist.”

The winner of the 2020 Barbara Jefferis Award will be announced in an online ceremony on Wednesday 18 November at 4pm AEDT, which will be streamed on Youtube.



  1. Wow, I’ve read 4 of the 5. That’s really unusual for me!


    • They’re great choices, and I really like what the judges said about the representation of older women. Both The White Girl and Wolfe Island are standouts in that respect.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, they are truly great choices!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely that you’ve read them all. Will be interesting to see who wins. 🤠☕🐧


    • It will indeed. I am secretly barracking for one of them but my lips are sealed…


  4. Hi Lisa, what a great list. I have read them, and I would like to see Tony Birch win.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How exciting! I have read them all as well, and look forward to learning which one wins.


    • $50,000 would make a huge difference to someone’s opportunities to write!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] 2020 Barbara Jefferis Award shortlist […]


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