Last night the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced in Melbourne and handed out by the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Arts. At the awards Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the establishment of the Book Council of Australia with the aim to “promote good reading as well as good writing”.
The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been recognising excellence in Australian Literature since 2008. In that time 137 books have been shortlisted and 24 books have won. The winner of each award category receives a prize of $80,000 tax-free and each shortlisted title receives $5,000.
There was some talk on Twitter last night regarding the joint prizes awarded to three of the categories – and a wish for the judges to be more decisive, but I don’t think the winners will be complaining (except perhaps if they were wanting the full prize money), but I suspect it’s not all about the money – I imagine it would be a pretty good recognition to win – and in an industry with not much acknowledgment for the time and effort it takes to produce a fine work of literature all those shortlisted would have pretty happy to have their books even nominated. But then again, writing is a hard slog with very little monetary reward, even for successful writers, so congratulations to all, as the prize money will hopefully sustain the career of some of Australia’s talented writers.
As expected Richard Flanagan won the Fiction category with The Narrow Road to the Deep North – there was no surprise there. This book is a juggernaut and is gaining momentum with each literary win. Movie deal to follow perhaps? He shared the win with Steven Carroll for his novel A World of Other People.
It was wonderful to see Felicity Castagna win the Young Adult category for her novel The Incredible Here and Now. After being shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, WA Premier’s Literary Awards, QLD Literary Awards and CBCA (Older Readers) she must have been pretty excited about her win! I really enjoyed this book. Read my review HERE and my article from the Sydney Writers Festival HERE where Felicity talks about the writing process of her prize-winning novel.
Very generously Richard Flanagan gave away his shared $40,000 prize money to the Indigenous Literary Foundation. In his words: ‘he wanted to help close the Indigenous literacy gap….if just one of those children in turn becomes a writer, if just one brings to Australia and to the world an idea of the universe that arises out of that glorious lineage of 60,000 years of Australian civilisation, then I will think this prize has rewarded not just me, but us all.’ Also, Bob Graham, who won the Children’s Fiction Award for Silver Buttons gave $10,000 of his prize money to the asylum seeker resource centre in Melbourne.
Congratulations to all the winners! Read all the shortlisted books here.
Click on each book image for links to Goodreads.
FICTION – JOINT WINNERS
NON FICTION – JOINT WINNERS
PRIZE FOR AUSTRALIAN HISTORY – JOINT WINNERS
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards