Shortlist announced for 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Shit_Peta Brady, Nicci Wilks and Sarah Ward_photo by Sebastian Bourges_editorialMinister for Creative Industries Martin Foley has kicked off a summer of diverse reading, announcing the 21 works that have been shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

“The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards showcase the strength and diversity of Australian literature, celebrating our most exciting stories and story tellers,” says Minister Foley. “These stories do what great literature does best: they allow us to reflect on the past, or explore an imagined future. The shortlist showcases the best local literature from the past year and provides us with plenty of fantastic summer reading.”

The works comprise some of the best fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and writing for young adults produced in Australia in the past 12 months, ranging from a portrait of two of Australia’s most prominent art patrons to a science-fiction/fantasy that follows the story of a family from 2016 to 2057.

There is the young adult tale of an Aboriginal girl taken from her family in Northern Australia, poems exploring the ways the past intrudes on the present, gritty theatre works exploring secrets, damaged lives and crime, and a look into a writer’s lifelong obsession with horse racing.

Author Miles Allinson has been shortlisted in the fiction category for his first novel Fever of Animals. The nomination caps off a significant year for the novelist. In 2014, Allinson received the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for the story, which went on to be published by Scribe.

The winners of the five award categories – fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and writing for young adults – each receive a prize of $25,000, and go on to contest the Victorian Prize for Literature. Worth a further $100,000, the Victorian Prize for Literature is Australia’s single richest literary prize.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were established by the then Labor Government in 1985 to honour literary achievement by Australian writers. The Awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Premier of Victoria.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards include two further Awards: the Unpublished Manuscript Award, which is presented as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival in May each year, and the biennial Award for Indigenous Writing, which will be announced in September 2016.

The public are encouraged to participate in the Awards by voting for their favourite shortlisted work. The winner of the $2,000 People’s Choice Award will be named alongside the main category winners on Thursday 28 January 2016. For more information, and to vote for the People’s Choice Award, visit: for details.



  • Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson (Scribe Publications) – Brunswick, Vic
  • The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop (Hachette) – Springwood, NSW
  • Clade by James Bradley (Penguin) – Darlington, NSW
  • Forever Young by Steven Carroll (HarperCollins) – Brunswick East, Vic
  • The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau (Bloomsbury) – Earlwood, NSW
  • The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin) – Marrickville, NSW

Highly commended: Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight (Random House Australia), The Mothers by Rod Jones (Text Publishing) and Black Rock White City by A.S. Patri? (Transit Lounge Publishing)


  • Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (MUP) – North Fitzroy, Vic, and Fitzroy, Vic
  • Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather by Karen Lamb (UQP) – Dulwich Hill, NSW
  • Australia’s Second Chance by George Megalogenis (Penguin) – North Caulfield, Vic
  • Second Half First by Drusilla Modjeska (Knopf) – Birchgrove, NSW
  • Something for the Pain by Gerald Murnane (Text Publishing) – Goroke, Vic
  • Mannix by Brenda Niall (Text Publishing) – Deepdene, Vic

Highly commended: Good Muslim Boy by Osamah Sami (Hardie Grant Books) and Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright (Giramondo Publishing)


  • Mortido by Angela Betzien (Currency Press) – St Peters, NSW
  • Broken by Mary Anne Butler (Currency Press) – Rapid Creek, NT
  • SHIT by Patricia Cornelius (Melbourne Theatre Company) – Thornbury, Vic

Highly commended: I am a Miracle by Declan Greene


  • The Guardians by Lucy Dougan (Giramondo Publishing) – East Victoria Park, Vic
  • Crankhandle by Alan Loney (Cordite) – Malvern East, Vic
  • The Subject of Feeling by Peter Rose (UWA Publishing) – Melbourne, Vic

Highly commended: Happiness by Martin Harrison (UWA Publishing)


  • Sister Heart by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press) – Bicton, WA
  • A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia) – Hamilton Hill, WA
  • Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward (Xoum Publishing) – Brunswick West, Vic

Highly commended: Illuminae by Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin) and Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison (Magabala Books)

Image: SHIT by Patricia Cornelius – photo by Sebastian Bourges