Showing all posts tagged: literary awards

More promotion of Australian literary awards benefits authors

28 January 2023

Louise Adler, director of Adelaide Writers’ Week, talking to Katrina Strickland, editor of Good Weekend, laments the lack of wider excitement generated by literary awards in Australia:

“We adore it when our authors win awards but, actually, often they do not translate into sales,” she says, pointing to the way the UK book industry gets behind the Booker Prize longlisted and shortlisted authors. “When the longlist for the Booker is announced the books on it are heavily promoted, booksellers get behind it, publishers get behind it, and then the shortlist is promoted heavily, too. And there’s lots and lots of discussion about them.”

It’s unfortunate Australian literary awards don’t have quite the same buzz surrounding them as the Booker Prize in the UK appears to. While the shortlists, and winners of prizes such as the Stella and Miles Franklin, make headlines when announced, they soon fall out of the news cycle.

No doubt the larger population of the UK, compared to Australia, makes a difference, and Australian authors recognised by local literary awards see a spike in book sales. Still, I doubt it’s anything like the “Booker boost” that writers named on the long and shortlists — and of course, the winner — of the Booker, enjoy.


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The Novel Prize for literary fiction 2022 shortlist

21 January 2023

UPDATE: the winners of the 2022 Novel Prize have been announced.

The Novel Prize is a biennial award for works of literary fiction, co-convened by three publishers, Giramondo, Fitzcarraldo Editions, and New Directions, based in Australia, Britain and Ireland, and America, respectively. Earlier this week, eight writers, some published, some not, were named on the shortlist for the 2022 prize:

  • Anonymity is Life, Sola Saar
  • Aurora Australis by Marie Doezema
  • Forever Valley by Darcie Dennigan
  • It Lasts Forever and Then It’s Over by Anne de Marcken
  • Moon Over Bucharest by Valer Popa
  • Palimpsest by Florina Enache
  • Tell by Jonathan Buckley
  • The Passenger Seat by Vijay Khurana

Some seven hundred entries were received this year’s award. Of the field, Florina Enache is the only Australian writer to make the cut. Australian author Jessica Au won the inaugural Novel Prize in 2020 for Cold Enough for Snow, which was published, as part of the award, in 2022. The 2022 winner will be announced next month, in February.


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The Booker Prize is seeking a name for their award trophy

21 January 2023

Booker Prize organisers are looking for a name for the statuette they present to recipients of the annual literary award, which was originally designed by late Polish-born British author and artist Jan Pieńkowski. The statuette was presented to inaugural Booker Prize winner P.H. Newby in 1969, but by the mid-1970’s winners were receiving a leather bound copy of their book.

In more recent years, recipients have been presented a perplex trophy. Following Pieńkowski’s death in 2022, organisers resumed using the statuette he designed, when Shehan Karunatilaka was named 2022 winner. Entries for suggested names for the statuette close on Friday 27 January 2023.


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The 2023 Indie Book Awards shortlist

19 January 2023

The Australian literary award season (and quite a long season it is), is underway for the year, with the announcement yesterday of the 2023 Indie Book Awards shortlist. Four titles, in six categories, are in contention this year:



Debut Fiction:

Illustrated Non-Fiction:


Young Adult:

The winners will be named on Monday 20 March 2023.


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The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for awful novel opening lines

18 December 2022

Not a literary award at all, more of an anti-literary award really, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), which has been running since its inception at San Jose State University in 1982. But unlike the literary awards we are more familiar with, the Bulwer-Lytton recognises terrible writing, and envisages the worst possible opening sentences to what will be awful novels.

Joe Tussey, from Daniels, in the U.S. state of West Virginia, was named winner in the 2022 adventure category, for this opener:

“Hoist the mainsail ye accursed swine” shouted the Captain over the roar of the waves as the ship was tossed like a cork dropped from a wine bottle into a jacuzzi when the faucet is wide open and the jets are running full blast and one has just settled into the water with a glass of red wine to ease the aches and pains after a day of hard labor raking leaves from the front yard.

The BLFC accepts nominations, the usual categories, including fiction, crime, and young adult, in the form of the worst paragraph you can devise, all through the year.


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Seeing G, when John Berger donated half his Booker Prize money to the British Black Panthers

15 December 2022

Seeing G, a short documentary produced by the Booker Prize organisation, and British writer Jo Hamya, explores a fascinating chapter in literary award history. In 1972, British author and poet John Berger, was named the Booker winner for his novel G, also written in 1972.

During his acceptance speech though Berger caused — or is said to have caused — controversy, by pledging to give half of the £5,000 prize money to the London chapter of the British Black Panther Movement. But was the gesture truly controversial, or was that the way the media portrayed it?

‘I have to turn this prize against itself,’ he went on. ‘The half I give away, will change the half I keep.’ In a move made notorious by press, Berger donated half of his prize money to the London-based British Black Panther Movement. ‘I badly need more money for my project about the migrant workers of Europe,’ he explained, ‘[And] the Black Panther Movement badly needs more money for their newspaper and for their other activities… the sharing of the prize signifies that our aims are the same.’

Needless to say, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.


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Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2023 shortlist announced

15 December 2022
The Signal Line by Brendan Colley, book cover

The Signal Line by Brendan Colley, book cover.

What do I like best about literary awards? They send a whole heap of reading recommendations in my direction. Yesterday the shortlists for the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were announced, and as a fan of fiction I’m looking forward to adding some more novels to my to-be-read list. While nominations span seven categories, including poetry, young adult, Indigenous writing, and drama, I’ve listed the shortlisted titles in the fiction category:

The winners in each category will be named on Thursday 2 February 2023.



Red Heaven by Nicolas Rothwell wins Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction

13 December 2022
Red Heaven by Nicolas Rothwell, book cover

Far North Queensland writer Nicolas Rothwell has been named winner of the 2022 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award in the fiction category, with his 2021 novel, Red Heaven. Published by Text Publishing, Red Heaven recounts the childhood of a boy growing up in Europe in the 1960s:

It begins in the late 1960s in Switzerland, as the boy’s ideas about life are being shaped by two rival influences. These are his so-called aunts — imperious, strong-willed, ambitious — both exiles, at the mercy of outside political events; both determined to make the boy into their own heir, an inheritor of their values. In self-contained episodes, each set in an alpine grand hotel, we see one aunt and then the other educate their protégé.

Serghiana, the ‘red princess’, is the daughter of a Soviet general, a producer of films and worshipper of art, a true believer. Ady, a former actress and singer, is a dilettante and cynic, Viennese, married to a great conductor: in her eyes, all is surface, truth a mere illusion. Memory and nostalgia — the aunts’ gifts to the boy, gifts of obligation — are the purest expression of love allowed them. Gradually he comes to understand the shadows in their past. Their stories stay with him, guiding his path through adolescence, until he can absorb the influences of the wider world.

Winners in other categories of this year’s awards include Human Looking, a collection of poetry by Andy Jackson, and The Gaps, by Leanne Hall, which won in the young adult category.


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Gabrielle Zevin wins Goodreads Choice best fiction award

9 December 2022
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin, book cover

Los Angeles based American author Gabrielle Zevin has won the Best Fiction award in the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards, with her latest novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which was published by Penguin Random House earlier this year:

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

One of the games created by the characters in the novel, EmilyBlaster, has since become an actual game. Zevin’s book is on my TBR list, hopefully I get to it over the summer break.

Other titles to collect awards this year include The Maid by Nita Prose, which won in the Mystery and Thriller category, while Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel, won the Science Fiction award.

Goodreads members cast near on six million votes, in seventeen categories, for their favourite titles in the annual poll of books published in the last year.


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Literary authors are among the lowest paid Australian writers

6 December 2022

The recently released results of a survey of Australian authors and writers make for sobering reading. If you’re considering a writing career, you ought to sit down before reading on. With rare exceptions, most Australian authors need at least one other job to make their writing ambitions feasible.

Income per annum varies according the nature of their writing, anywhere from about A$27,000 for educational writers, down to A$14,500 for literary authors. Bear in mind the minimum annual salary in Australia is a little over $42,000, based on a rate of A$21.38 per hour.

Education authors earned the highest average income from their practice as an author ($27,300), followed by children’s ($26,800) and genre fiction ($23,300) authors. Even though these figures are above the overall average for authors, they are not enough to live on, to support a family, or to pay rent or a mortgage. At the other end of the spectrum are poets, who earned an average of $5,700 from their creative practice. Literary authors earned $14,500, which is a decrease in real terms since 2015.

In case you’re wondering, literary authors are likely the sort of author anyone who wants to write wants to be. They also tend to be winners of literary awards including the Stella Prize, Miles Franklin, SPN Book of the Year, and Patrick White Award. And yet they only earn about a third of the Australian minimum wage for their craft.


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The Booker Prize World Cup 2022

4 December 2022

If football/soccer isn’t your thing, but you love the thrill of elimination contests involving novels, you could always take a look at the Booker Prize World Cup:

We’ve selected, entirely arbitrarily, 16 winning books from the Booker Prize’s 53-year history, with each author representing a different footballing nation. In each case, the author is playing for their country of birth (which is more than you can say for the Qatar football team), and not necessarily the country with which they are best associated or where they live. We have drawn books against one another at random and in each ‘match’ — which will be posted on our Instagram and Twitter channels each day — we would like you to vote for the best book via a poll. The winning book will then progress to the next round. After the first round, there’ll be a quarter-final, semi-final and grand final.

The provision of each author playing for their country of birth is important, given South African born writer J.M. Coetzee, for example, has been an Australian citizen since 2006. Otherwise Peter Carey, with his 1988 novel Oscar and Lucinda, was Australia’s opening round representative.

While it could have been argued Australia was in with two chances, unfortunately as of the quarter final phase of the Booker Prize World Cup, both Carey and Coetzee had been eliminated. Such is life. Still, I’m waiting to see who wins. To take part, and support your favourite book, cast your vote via the Booker Prize Twitter or Instagram pages.


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Antigone Kefala wins 2022 Patrick White literary award

27 November 2022

Antigone Kefala, an Australian poet of Greek-Romanian heritage, has been named winner of the 2022 Patrick White Award.

In 1973 Patrick White became the first Australian author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and he used the prize money to create an award for Australian writers. The winning author is usually an established writer who administrators of the prize feel has been not been adequately recognised during their career. Further, the winner is selected, rather than being nominated, so the prize could — in a sense — be regarded as a lifetime achievement award.

If you’re a fan of poetry, and aren’t familiar with Kefala’s work, now might be the time to become acquainted with her free-form verse, that has variously been described as “minimalist” and having an “almost metaphysical detachment.”


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Gravidity and Parity by Eleanor Jackson wins 2022 SPN book of year

25 November 2022
Gravidity and Parity by Eleanor Jackson, book cover

Gravidity and Parity, written by Eleanor Jackson, and published by Vagabond Press, has been named winner of the Small Press Network (SPN) Book of the Year award.

Gravidity and Parity is a poignant and intricate collection of poetry that guides the reader into the journey of motherhood, pulling no punches in how it addresses and details all that is often unsaid or unknown about pregnancy. The book is set during the COVID pandemic, and author Eleanor Jackson beautifully encapsulates this all-too-familiar moment in recent history, reflecting on themes of connectedness and isolation.

The SPN does invaluable work representing the interests of over two hundred and fifty small and independent book publishers in Australia and New Zealand.


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Currowan by Bronwyn Adcock wins 2022 Walkley Book Award

17 November 2022
Currowan by Bronwyn Adcock, book cover

Currowan, by NSW based Australian journalist and writer Bronwyn Adcock, has been named winner of the 2022 Walkley Book Award. Published by Black Inc., Currowan is a harrowing personal account of a bush fire that burnt for seventy-four days on the NSW south coast in 2019.

The Currowan fire — ignited by a lightning strike in a remote forest and growing to engulf the New South Wales South Coast — was one of the most terrifying episodes of Australia’s Black Summer. It burnt for seventy-four days, consuming nearly 5000 square kilometres of land, destroying well over 500 homes and leaving many people shattered.

Bronwyn Adcock fled the inferno with her children. Her husband, fighting at the front, rang with a plea for help before his phone went dead, leaving her to fear — will he make it out alive?

In Currowan, Bronwyn tells her story and those of many others — what they saw, thought and felt as they battled a blaze of never-before-seen intensity. In the aftermath, there were questions — why were resources so few that many faced the flames alone? Why was there back-burning on a day of extreme fire danger? Why weren’t we better prepared?

Currowan is a portrait of tragedy, survival and the power of community. Set against the backdrop of a nation in the grip of an intensifying crisis, this immersive account of a region facing disaster is a powerful glimpse into a new, more dangerous world — and how we build resilience.

The Walkley Awards, which are presented annually, recognise excellence in Australian journalism.


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Signs and Wonders by Delia Falconer wins 2022 Nib Literary award

16 November 2022
Signs and Wonders, by Delia Falconer, book cover

Signs and Wonders, by Delia Falconer has been named winner of the 2022 Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award.

Building on Falconer’s two acclaimed essays, ‘Signs and Wonders’ and the Walkley Award-winning ‘The Opposite of Glamour’, Signs and Wonders is a pioneering examination of how we are changing our culture, language and imaginations along with our climate. Is a mammoth emerging from the permafrost beautiful or terrifying? How is our imagination affected when something that used to be ordinary — like a car windscreen smeared with insects — becomes unimaginable? What can the disappearance of the paragraph from much contemporary writing tell us about what’s happening in the modern mind?

Scientists write about a ‘great acceleration’ in human impact on the natural world. Signs and Wonders shows that we are also in a period of profound cultural acceleration, which is just as dynamic, strange, extreme and, sometimes, beautiful. Ranging from an ‘unnatural’ history of coal to the effect of a large fur seal turning up in the park below her apartment, this book is a searching and poetic examination of the ways we are thinking about how, and why, to live now.

In addition, Mortals, by Rachel E. Menzies and Ross G. Menzies, won this year’s people choice award.

The literary prize, often referred to as the Nib Award, was established in 2002, and principal sponsors are presently Mark and Evette Moran. The award recognises excellence in literary research, and is open to Australian works of any genre, fiction or non-fiction.


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Small publishers thrive on Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist

9 November 2022

The shortlist for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was unveiled this week. Thirty titles, across six categories — including fiction, poetry, Australian history, and young adult — were selected from over five-hundred and forty entries.

Notably, sixteen of the books shortlisted were published by members of the Small Press Network, a representative body for small and independent Australian publishers.

With consolidations taking place in the publishing industry worldwide, potentially reducing the number of publishing houses, and leaving only a handful of large players, this is a welcome indication that smaller publishers are thriving.


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Susannah Begbie wins 2022 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers

3 November 2022

Australian doctor Susannah Begbie has been named winner of the 2022 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, with her manuscript titled When Trees Fall Without Warning.

Her work, When Trees Fall Without Warning, which took ten years to write, is an expertly told, compelling work of commercial fiction. Instantly captivating, with characters alive with personality who ring emotionally true, this is an original and lively narrative that creates memorable insights into a dysfunctional family dynamic. The Richell Prize judges have no doubt that Susannah is a writer with the ability to create an ongoing literary career.

So good to see that ten years of writing looks like it will result in a published work.


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Emily Bitto wins 2022 Roderick Literary Award with Wild Abandon

3 November 2022

Melbourne based Australian author Emily Bitto has been named winner of the 2022 Roderick Literary Award, with her 2021 novel Wild Abandon.

Two hundred and thirty entries — a record number — were received for the 2022 award. All were of a high standard, which made selecting a shortlist, let alone a winner, difficult, according to Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, who headed up the judging panel.

A lot of very good books just didn’t make the shortlist. But in the end Emily Bitto’s extremely well-crafted account of a young Australian man’s ‘escape’ to New York and then into the US heartlands after the breakdown of his first serious relationship — a coming of age and into self-knowledge story set against a richly symbolic and allusive account of the decline of civilisations — won the prize.


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Tom Keneally, Katrina Nannestad win 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize

22 October 2022

Sydney based Australian author Tom Keneally has won the adult category of the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize with his novel Corporal Hitler’s Pistol. Katrina Nannestad meanwhile, who resides in central Victoria, was named winner of the children and young adult category with Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief.

Keneally has graciously shared his prize money with this year’s other award longlisted authors. Keneally was forthright in his decision. Speaking as an eighty-seven year old he said, he’d rather see other writers benefit from the prize money instead of him spending it on incontinence pads.


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Why aren’t Australian books being nominated for the Booker Prize?

19 October 2022

It’s been six years since the work of an Australian author was nominated for the Booker Prize. Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan was the last recipient in 2014, with his book The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Since then only South African born Australian author J.M. Coetzee has made the cut, being named on the longlist for the 2016 Prize with The Schooldays of Jesus.

But 2014 was also the year changes were made to the Prize’s eligibility requirements, allowing any English language title to be nominated, essentially opening up the award to American writers. Since then it seems Australian books have struggled to gain traction.

The Booker was once confined to authors from the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe — an empire rule that looked increasingly silly, leading to a change in 2014 to allow all novels written in English, so long as they were published by UK and Irish publishing houses. Much fuss was made about the decision to let Americans in (including by Carey), but it is undeniable that since then, they have made up roughly a quarter of every longlist and won three times; at this year’s prize, which was won by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka on Monday, six of the 13 nominees were American. These authors are most often living, working and published in the US — seemingly an easier path into the UK than the long road from Australia.


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