Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019

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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 Australian writing. The awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Premier of Victoria.

The winners of the main suite of awards – fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, writing for young adults, and the biennial Prize for Indigenous Writing – each receive $25,000. The winner of the Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript receives $15,000.

The winners of the seven award categories go on to contest the overall Victorian Prize for Literature, worth an additional $100,000. This is the single most valuable literary award in the country.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 31 January 2019.

You can participate in the awards by voting for your favourite work published in 2018. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be named alongside the general category winners, and will receive $2,000.

The judges

Fiction: Jackie Tang, Abigail Ulman, Chris Womersley, Elizabeth McCarthy (convenor)
Non-fiction: Dennis Altman, Fatima Measham, Sonia Nair, Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Jordy Silverstein (convenor)
Drama: Tim Byrne, Samah Sabawi, Alison Croggon (convenor)
Poetry: Broede Carmody, Lia Incognita, Gig Ryan (convenor)
Writing for Young Adults: Melissa Keil, Nevo Zisin, Leanne Hall (convenor)
The Prize for Indigenous Writing: Genevieve Grieves, Mark McMillan, Jane Harrison (convenor)
The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript: Jaclyn Crupi, JP Pomare, Elizabeth Flux (convenor)

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 #vpla2019 hashtag.

The shortlist


  • Flames by Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing)
  • Ironbark by Jay Carmichael (Scribe Publications)
  • The Fireflies of Autumn: And Other Tales of San Ginese by Moreno Giovannoni (Black Inc. Books)
  • The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones (Text Publishing)
  • Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (University of Queensland Press)
  • The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida (Faber & Faber)


  • No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (Picador Australia)
  • Staying: A Memoir by Jessie Cole (Text Publishing)
  • The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire by Chloe Hooper (Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee (Allen & Unwin)
  • Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic (Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin (Brow Books)


  • The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver (Currency Press, in association with Griffin Theatre Company)
  • Going Down by Michele Lee (Malthouse Theatre)
  • Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine (Currency Press, in association with Belvoir) 


  • Flood Damages by Eunice Andrada (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Tilt by Kate Lilley (Vagabond Press)
  • Milk Teeth by Rae White (University of Queensland Press)

Writing for Young Adults

  • Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough (Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • Between Us by Clare Atkins (Black Inc. Books)
  • Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Allen & Unwin)

Indigenous Writing

  • Common People by Tony Birch (University of Queensland Press)
  • Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (University of Queensland Press)
  • Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador Australia)
  • Blakwork by Alison Whittaker (Magabala Books)

Unpublished Manuscript

  • Wedding Cake Island by John Byron
  • Kokomo by Victoria Hannan
  • Frontier Sport by Wayne Marshall

Highly commended


  • Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau (Brow Books)


  • Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia by Billy Griffiths (Black Inc. Books)
  • One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton (Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by Sisonke Msimang (Text Publishing)
  • Small Wrongs: How we really say sorry in love, life and law by Kate Rossmanith (Hardie Grant Books)


  • Lethal Indifference by Anna Barnes (Sydney Theatre Company)
  • In the Club by Patricia Cornelius (State Theatre Company of South Australia)


  • Body of Work by Elena Gomez (Cordite Publishing)
  • Subtraction by Fiona Hile (Vagabond Press)
  • Blakwork by Alison Whittaker (Magabala Books)

Young Adult

  • After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)
  • Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza (Penguin Random House Australia)

Unpublished Manuscript

  • The Fogging by Luke Horton
  • This Wasn't Meant To Be Me by Allee Richards

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist