Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2021 shortlists announced

The shortlists for the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced.

The shortlisted and highly commended works in each category are:


  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams (Richard Flanagan, Knopf)
  • Our Shadows (Gail Jones, Text)
  • The Animals in That Country (Laura Jean McKay, Scribe)
  • The Coconut Children (Vivian Pham, Vintage)

Highly commended

  • Revenge: Murder in Three Parts (S L Lim, Transit Lounge)
  • Smart Ovens for Lonely People (Elizabeth Tan, Brio)


  • Songlines: The Power and Promise (Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly, Thames & Hudson)
  • Body Count: How climate change is killing us (Paddy Manning, S&S)
  • Show Me Where It Hurts (Kylie Maslen, Text)
  • Blueberries (Ellena Savage, Text)
  • Witness: An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice (Louise Milligan, Hachette)
  • Fire Country: How Indigenous fire management could help save Australia (Victor Steffensen, Hardie Grant Travel)

Highly commended

  • After the Count (Stephanie Convery, Viking)
  • Hazelwood (Tom Doig, Viking)
  • People of the River (Grace Karskens, A&U)
  • British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, intercolonial relations and the Empire (Kama Maclean, NewSouth)


  • Wonnangatta (Angus Cerini, Sydney Theatre Company)
  • SLAP. BANG. KISS. (Dan Giovannoni, Melbourne Theatre Company)
  • Sunshine Super Girl: The Evonne Goolagong Story (Andrea James, Currency Press)

Highly commended

  • Wherever She Wanders (Kendall Feaver, Griffith Theatre Company and Currency Press)
  • Torch the Place (Benjamin Law, Melbourne University Publishing)


  • Ask Me About the Future (Rebecca Jessen, UQP)
  • Case Notes (David Stavanger, UWA Publishing)
  • Throat (Ellen van Neerven, UQP)

Highly commended

  • Of Memory and Furniture (Bron Bateman, Fremantle Press)
  • Turbulence (Thuy On, UWAP)

Writing for young adults

  • The F Team (Rawah Arja, Giramondo)
  • Metal Fish, Falling Snow (Cath Moore, Text)
  • Where We Begin (Christie Nieman, Pan)

Highly commended

  • The End of the World is Bigger than Love (Davina Bell, Text)
  • The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (Garth Nix, A&U)

Award for Indigenous writing

  • Tell Me Why: The story of my life and my music (Archie Roach, S&S)
  • Kindred (Kirli Saunders, Magabala)
  • Song of the Crocodile (Nardi Simpson, Hachette)
  • Where the Fruit Falls (Karen Wyld, UWAP)

Highly commended

  • Late Murrumbidgee Poems (John Mukky Burke, Cordite Books)

Unpublished manuscript

  • Anam (André Dao)
  • On A Knife’s Edge (Neela Janakiramanan)
  • But the Girl (Jessica Zhan Mei Yu)

Highly commended

  • Children of Tomorrow (J R Burgmann)
  • Goblins (Patrick Hunn)
  • The Guest House (Kylie Mirmohamadi).

The winners will be presented with their awards at a digital awards announcement on Monday, 1 February, 2021. The recipients of the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, young adult categories and the biennial prize for Indigenous writing each receive $25,000, while the winner of the unpublished manuscript award receives $15,000. The winners of each of the seven award categories go on to contest the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature. A people’s choice award, worth $2000, will also be announced.

The 2020 Victorian Prize for Literature was awarded to Sydney playwright S Shakthidharan and associate writer Eamon Flack for their play Counting and Cracking (Belvoir and Co-Curious).

For more information about the awards, see the Wheeler Centre website.



Category: Awards Local news