Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 13, 2020

2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist

The 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists were announced today:

Exploded View, Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing, see my review
The Death of Jesus, J. M. Coetzee, Text Publishing
The Weekend, Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin, see my review
The Yield, Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton: Penguin Random House, see my review
Wolfe Island, Lucy Treloar, Picador: Pan Macmillan, see my review

Hearing Maud: A Journey for a Voice, Jessica White, University of Western Australia Publishing, see my review
Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, Christina Thompson, William Collins: HarperCollins
See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill, Black Inc., see Jennifer’s review at Tasmanian Bibliophile at Large.
Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines, Gay’wu Group of Women, Allen & Unwin
The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia, Tim Bonyhady, Text Publishing

Australian history
From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting, Judith Brett, Text Publishing, see my review
Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago, Tiffany Shellam, University of Western Australia Publishing
Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform, Marilyn Lake, Harvard University Press
Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields, Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies, La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc.
The Oarsmen: The Remarkable Story of the Men Who Rowed from the Great War to Peace, Scott Patterson, Hardie Grant Books

Birth Plan, LK Holt, Vagabond Press
Empirical, Lisa Gorton, Giramondo Poets
Heide,π.O., Giramondo Poets
The Future Keepers, Nandi Chinna, Fremantle Press
The Lost Arabs, Omar Sakr, University of Queensland Press

Children’s literature
Catch a Falling Star, Meg McKinlay, Walker Books
Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back, Dion Beasley and Johanna Bell, Allen & Unwin
Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines, Jasmine Seymour, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson, Magabala Books
One Careless Night, Christina Booth, Black Dog Books: Walker Books
Winter of the White Bear, Martin Ed Chatterton, Dirt Lane Press

Young adult literature
How it Feels to Float, Helena Fox, Pan Macmillan, see Brona’s review at Brona’s Books
The Honeyman and the Hunter, Neil Grant, Allen & Unwin
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, Wai Chim, Allen & Unwin
This Is How We Change the Ending, Vikki Wakefield, Text Publishing
When the Ground Is Hard,Malla Nunn, Allen & Unwin


  1. I saw in Facebook that Jess White was in there. Great news!


  2. I have read See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill, Black Inc. ( as well as some of the others you have read, Lisa. And, of course, there are some on my reading list ….


    • Thanks Jennifer, I knew somebody had, but I was a bit hasty with this because we got home late after a long lunch at The Spouse’s brother’s place in Rye. It was the first time I’d been out of Melbourne since restrictions started! We had to take Amber with us because she’s showing all the signs of separation anxiety because she hasn’t been alone in the house for months and months. (She had a lovely time chasing his chickens, which smirked at her from the roof of the henhouse.) She’s not going to like us being out and about…


      • I’m so glad you had a trip out of Melbourne. How wonderful! And yes, Amber will take time to adjust.


        • You know what’s weird? Having to check our calendars to see if we have any prior engagements… we’ve haven’t had any for sooo long!


          • I’m sure those calendars will quickly fill up again. My congratulations to all Victorians for negotiating the COVID-19 shoals.


            • We’ve done well… what it actually really shows is that despite the behaviour of the few stupid people who started it, the overwhelming numbers of smart people in Melbourne crushed it.
              And it also shows that if you don’t have a smart, cohesive population in the first place, you have no hope of doing what we did.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve put See What You Made Me Do on reserve at our library Lisa, but as we can borrow an item for three months at a time now, it’s a long wait for a reserved book (it’s out on loan until next year…) The library has allowed extended borrowing periods ever since we had lock down in April. I keep hoping people will read books fast..I have about a dozen books on reserve,will probably get them in the New Year!

    I’m so glad to hear you had a break away after months of lock down!


    • Now you mention it, the librarian did seem surprised when I rang to arrange collection of my next reserve, when I said I had two books to return, and I’d only had them for 10 days.
      I understand why they did it, but I hope those 3 months borrowing times end soon. A book that’s lurking around the house for that amount of time can easily go missing. I put mine on the dresser by the front door, but tidy people don’t want to do that for three months. And at the worst, it means only four people can borrow a given book in a year if they all take three months to read it.
      The return chutes are all open now, so returns should be back to normal…


      • I couldn’t agree more Lisa! I have several books on reserve and it’s a long, long wait to get them! I can imagine the librarian was surprised when you returned yours so promptly!

        We are sweltering in a heatwave here and it’s only November. I dread February. I am over summer, it’s becoming unbearable. How are things in Melbourne?


        • Well, we’ve had a warm day today, but not unbearable. I would like some nice tank-filling kind of rain …


  4. I’m glad to see the Helena Fox in the YA list – intense but beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brona, I’ll add that link.
      BTW I have just finished Coonardoo by Katharine Susannah Prichard, a classic work of OzLit for your Aussie Reading Month. My review will be a while in coming because I have to check something in a library book that’s not due back till Nov 23rd, but I’ll let you know when it’s up on the blog:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lisa. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

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