Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2020 shortlist announced

The Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlist has been announced for 2020. According to the Office of the Arts website, the awards “recognise and celebrate the exceptional literary talents of esteemed and emerging Australian writers.”

Out of a total of 562 entries, 30 books have made the shortlist which is split into six categories: fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, poetry, children's literature, and young adult literature. 

The Prime Minister's Literary Awards have been running since 2008. The shortlist is selected by a judging panel of 14 experts, with the Prime Minister making the final decision. Up to $100,000 is awarded in each category with $80,000 going to each winner and $5,000 for each of the shortlisted entries.

It's an extraordinary achievement to make the shortlist and we congratulate all those who have been recognised. The complete list is below.


  • Exploded View, Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing
  • The Death of Jesus, J. M. Coetzee,Text Publishing
  • The Weekend, Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin
  • The Yield, Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton: Penguin Random House
  • Wolfe Island, Lucy Treloar, Picador: Pan Macmillan


  • Hearing Maud: A Journey for a Voice, Jessica White, University of Western Australia Publishing
  • Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, Christina Thompson, William Collins: HarperCollins
  • See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill, Black Inc.
  • Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines, Gay’wu Group of Women, Allen & Unwin
  • The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia, Tim Bonyhady, Text Publishing

Australian history

  • From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting, Judith Brett, Text Publishing
  • Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago, Tiffany Shellam, University of Western Australia Publishing
  • Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform, Marilyn Lake, Harvard University Press
  • Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields, Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies, La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc.
  • The Oarsmen: The Remarkable Story of the Men Who Rowed from the Great War to Peace, Scott Patterson, Hardie Grant Books


  • Birth Plan, LK Holt, Vagabond Press
  • Empirical, Lisa Gorton, Giramondo Poets
  • Heide,π.O., Giramondo Poets
  • The Future Keepers, Nandi Chinna, Fremantle Press
  • The Lost Arabs, Omar Sakr, University of Queensland Press

Children’s literature

  • Catch a Falling Star, Meg McKinlay, Walker Books
  • Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back, Dion Beasley and Johanna Bell, Allen & Unwin
  • Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines, Jasmine Seymour, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson, Magabala Books
  • One Careless Night, Christina Booth, Black Dog Books: Walker Books
  • Winter of the White Bear, Martin Ed Chatterton, Dirt Lane Press

Young adult literature

  • How it Feels to Float, Helena Fox, Pan Macmillan
  • The Honeyman and the Hunter, Neil Grant, Allen & Unwin
  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, Wai Chim, Allen & Unwin
  • This Is How We Change the Ending, Vikki Wakefield, Text Publishing
  • When the Ground Is Hard, Malla Nunn, Allen & Unwin
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