Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Pandemic novel wins Australia’s richest literary prize

Laura Jean McKay has won Australia’s richest literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature, for her second book The Animals in That Country (Scribe)—‘a literary spec-fic novel that imagines a world in which humans and animals might finally understand each other’ as the result of a pandemic. She’s one of several authors in recent months to have picked up a major prize for their first or second book.

Lucy Treloar has won the biennial Barbara Jefferis Award for her second novel, Wolfe Island ​(Picador). The award is presented for the ‘best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way’.

Rebecca Giggs picked up awards in both Australia (the Nib Literary Award) and the US (the ALA Andrew Carnegie Medal) for her debut nonfiction book Fathoms: The world in the whale (Scribe), a work of narrative nonfiction that blends natural history, science and philosophy. In 2018 Scribe sold North American rights to Fathoms to Simon & Schuster for a ‘record six-figure nonfiction deal’.

Two book awards that specifically celebrate new Australian fiction have been announced. Elizabeth Tan’s Smart Ovens for Lonely People (Brio) has won the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and Pip Williams’ The Dictionary of Lost Words (Affirm Press) has won the MUD Literary Prize for debut novels.

Novelist Gregory Day won the Patrick White Literary Award for authors who ‘have made a significant but inadequately recognised contribution to Australian literature’. Day is the author of five novels, including his most recent, A Sand Archive (Picador), which was shortlisted for Australia’s pre-eminent fiction award, the Miles Franklin.

Other awards announcements in recent months include:

 

Category: Think Australian newsletter Award-winners