Christos Tsiolkas wins $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature 2021

AAR-Christos-Tsiolkas-photo-by John-TsiavisAward-winning Playwright, Essayist and Screen writer, Christos Tsiolkas has been announced the winner of the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature 2021 for his body of work, which has made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature and to cultural and intellectual life.

Tsiolkas is the author of seven novels, including Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award, as well as being made into a feature film.

His fourth novel, the international bestseller The Slap, won Overall Best Book in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, long listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australian Literary Society Gold, as well as the 2009 Australian Booksellers Association and Australian Book Industry Awards Books of the Year.

Tsiolkas’ fifth novel Barracuda was shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and the inaugural Voss Literary Prize. The Slap and Barracuda were both adapted into celebrated television series.

His acclaimed collection of short stories, Merciless Gods, published in 2014, has been adapted for the stage, and his critical literary study On Patrick White came out in 2018. His sixth novel, Damascus, was published in 2019 and won the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. His latest novel, 7½, was released this month.

Evelyn Araluen was awarded the NEW $20,000 Professional Development Award to assist in pursuing the recipient’s writing career; and Eloise Grills was announced the winner of the $15,000 Writer’s Prize for The Fat Bitch in Art – her essay of outstanding originality, literary merit and creative freshness. Maxine Beneba Clarke has been announced the winner of $3,000 Civic Choice Award.

“Thank you to the Melbourne Prize Trust for once again shining a light on our brightest creative minds and continuing to back creative careers – this support is more important than ever,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Danny Pearson MP.

“I congratulate this year’s finalists and commend them for their resilience in continuing to inspire, challenge and entertain us through difficult times.”

The Melbourne Prize Judges this year include three leading literary identities: Declan Fry, Writer, Alice Pung, Writer and Michael Williams, Artistic Director, Sydney Writers Festival.

Now in its 17th year, the annual Melbourne Prize demonstrates the importance of recognising and rewarding creative talent and excellence and provides opportunities to Victorian musicians, writers and (urban) sculptors over its three-year prize cycle.

The success of the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2021 & Awards reflects a vibrant literary sector and reinforces Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

In what has been a challenging year for the community and the arts sector, the Melbourne Prize Trust thanks the overwhelming number of entrants this year and the Victorian literary sector for its support. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Christos Tsiolkas – photo by John Tsiavis