Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2017

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Your definitive guide to Australia’s best writing.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were inaugurated by the Victorian 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 winners of the five award categories – fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and writing for young adults – each receive $25,000 and go on to contest the Victorian Prize for Literature. 

Participate in the awards by voting for your favourite work on the shortlist. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be named alongside the general category winners, and will receive $2,000.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards include two further awards: the Unpublished Manuscript Award and the biennial Award for Indigenous Writing. The 2016 Unpublished Manuscript Award was won by Melanie Cheng for Australia Day, while Tony Birch's Ghost River won the 2016 Award for Indigenous Writing. For the first time this year, these two additional awards will both join consideration with the other five category winners for the Victorian Prize for Literature.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 31 January 2017.

The Judges

Fiction: Stella Charls, Alice Pung, Jo Case (convener)
Non-fiction: Bruce Pascoe, Sami Shah, Jordy Silverstein, Michaela McGuire, Sharon Mullins (convener)
Drama: Jane Harrison, Emilie Collyer, John Bailey (convener)
Poetry: Samah Sabawi, Emilie Zoey Baker, Alicia Sometimes (convener)
Writing for Young Adults: Marlee Jane Ward, Davina Bell, Jess Tran (convener)

Submissions from publishers and writers are open in September each year for titles published between 1 January and 31 December of the same year.

Tweet about the shortlisted titles using the #vpla2017 hashtag.

Winning entries

  • Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications)
  • Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru by Madeline Gleeson (NewSouth Publishing)
  • The Drover’s Wife by Leah Purcell (Currency Press)
  • Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette Australia)
  • When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature – Australia's single richest literary prize – is Leah Purcell with The Drover's Wife. The winner of the People's Choice Award is Randa Abdel-Fattah with When Michael Met Mina.

The shortlist


  • Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications)
  • The Healing Party by Micheline Lee (Black Inc.)
  • Wood Green by Sean Rabin (Giramondo)
  • Waiting by Philip Salom (Puncher and Wattmann)
  • The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong (Text Publishing)
  • The Love of a Bad Man by Laura Elizabeth Woollett (Scribe Publications)


  • Songs of a War Boy by Deng Adut with Ben Mckelvey (Hachette Australia)
  • The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette Australia)
  • The Killing Season Uncut by Sarah Ferguson with Patricia Drum (Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru by Madeline Gleeson (NewSouth Publishing)
  • Position Doubtful by Kim Mahood (Scribe Publications)
  • The Fighter by Arnold Zable (Text Publishing)


  • Girl Shut Your Mouth by Gita Bezard (Black Swan State Theatre Company)
  • Trigger Warning by Zoë Coombs Marr (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)
  • The Drover’s Wife by Leah Purcell (Currency Press)


  • Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette Australia)
  • Painting Red Orchids by Eileen Chong (Pitt Street Poetry)
  • Bull Days by Tina Giannoukos (Australian Scholarly Publishing)

Writing for Young Adults

  • When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon (Hachette Australia)
  • The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale (Penguin Random House Australia)

Highly commended


· An Isolated Incident by Emily McGuire (Pan Macmillan)
· Our Magic Hour by Jennifer Down (Text Publishing)
· After the Carnage by Tara June Winch (University of Queensland Press)

Writing for Young Adults

· Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim (Allen and Unwin)
· Frankie by Shivaun Plozza (Penguin Books Australia)

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist