Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 15, 2021

2021 Voss Literary Prize shortlist

The Shortlist for the 2021 Voss Literary Prize has been announced:

Robbie Arnott, The Rain Heron (Text Publishing), on my TBR

Gail Jones, Our Shadows (Text Publishing), see my review

Amanda Lohrey, The Labyrinth (Text Publishing), winner of the 2121 Miles Franklin Award, see my review

Vivian Pham, The Coconut Children (Penguin Books), abandoned

Nardi Simpson, Song of the Crocodile (Hachette Australia), see my review

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The Voss Literary Prize is an award dedicated to the memory of Vivian Robert de Vaux Voss (1930-1963), an historian and lover of literature from Emu Park in Central Queensland who studied History and Latin at the University of Sydney and modern languages at the University of Rome. His will stipulated that a literary award be established to reward the best novel from the previous year.

The winner will be announced at the AUHE (Australian University Heads of English) AGM in November.


  1. Why was The Coconut Children abandoned?


    • Well, clearly the judges don’t agree with me, but I explained it here:


      • Oh now I understand. Just to let you know I gave this book to my 17 year old granddaughter who is a very widely read year 11 student and she absolutely loved it – as did the girls she passed it on to. I then borrowed it back -and like you – was a bit flummoxed as to why she liked it so much. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. She said she loved the characters and reading about the problems they faced was very moving. Also I know she is sick of YA novels and perhaps felt this one was more adult.


        • I think you’re right. It’s a young person’s novel.


  2. It’s not often I’ve already read 3 books from a shortlist, but I’d be happy to see Labyrinth or The Rain Heron win at this point (even though I found the ending of The Rain Heron did let down the stunning start). But I have become a huge fan of Arnott and would like to see him win some of the awards he gets shortlisted for.


  3. Like Brona, I’ve read three from this list (Arnott, Lohrey and Jones) and I’d be very happy to see Robbie Arnott win this!


    • I’ll add links to yours and to Brona’s review, but first I must do my review of the book I read last night!


  4. ‘The Coconut Children’ is the only one I have not read. My favourite is ‘ Song of The Crocodile’ but I also loved ‘The Labyrinth’ and ‘The Rain Heron’.


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