Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2020

The nation's best writing. Australia's richest literary prize.

VPLA 2020 Artwork with rainbow outlines of a book next to the words 'Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2020'

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 The winner of the Award for an Unpublished Manuscript receives $15,000. 

The winners of these 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.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be named alongside the general category winners, and will receive $2,000. Voting is open here until 5pm Monday 20 January 2020.

This year's shortlist was announced below on 2 December 2019.

The judges

Fiction: Jay Carmichael, Micheline Lee, Anna MacDonald, Elizabeth Flux (convenor)
Non-fiction: Ali Alizadeh, Joy Damousi, Quinn Eades, Jacinda Woodhead, Fatima Measham (convenor)
Drama: Carissa Lee, Chi Vu, Tim Byrne (convenor)
Poetry: Elena Gomez, Andy Jackson, Jeanine Leane (convenor)
Writing for Young Adults: Demet Divaroren, Michael Earp, Melissa Keil (convenor)
Unpublished Manuscript: Ellen Cregan, Luke Horton, Natalie Kon-yu (convenor)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 #vpla2020 hashtag.

The shortlist

Fiction 

Non-fiction

Drama

  • City of Gold by Meyne Wyatt (Currency Press, in association with Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre)

  • Counting and Cracking by S.Shakthidharan and Associate Writer Eamon Flack (Belvoir and Co-Curious)

  • Them by Samah Sabawi (La Mama Theatre, in association with Samah Sabawi and Lara Week)

Poetry

Writing for Young Adults

Unpublished Manuscript

Highly commended

Non-fiction 

  • Castaway: The extraordinary survival story of Narcisse Pelletier, a young French cabin boy shipwrecked on Cape York in 1858 by Robert Macklin (Hachette Australia)

  • The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia by Tim Bonyhady (Text Publishing)

  • The Thinking Woman by Julienne van Loon (NewSouth Publishing)

Drama

  • Anthem by Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas and Irine Vela (Performing Lines in association with Arts Centre Melbourne)

  • White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King (Samuel French, in association with Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside's National Theatre of Parramatta)

Poetry

  • Archival-Poetics by Natalie Harkin (Vagabond Press)

  • The Future Keepers by Nandi Chinna (Fremantle Press)

Young Adult

  • Highway Bodies by Alison Evans (Echo Publishing)

  • When the Ground is Hard by by Malla Nunn (Allen & Unwin)

Unpublished Manuscript

  • I'll hold you by Jenni Mazaraki

Special Commendation

Fiction

  • The Rich Man’s House by Andrew McGahan

Whilst ineligible for the 2020 Awards, the Fiction judging panel would like to acknowledge the 'masterfully constructed and thrilling' work of The Rich Man’s House. 'Mixing crime, adventure, horror, and the supernatural, The Rich Man’s House paints a frighteningly believable picture of a geographically monstrous mountain and the man who conquered it.'

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist