Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2020
The nation's best writing. Australia's richest literary prize.
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 The winner of the Award for an Unpublished Manuscript receives $15,000.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.
This year's shortlist was announced below on 2 December 2019.
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Unpublished Manuscript: Ellen Cregan, Luke Horton, Natalie Kon-yu (convenor)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.
- Act of Grace by Anna Krien (Black Inc.)
- Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas (Allen & Unwin)
- Simpson Returns by Wayne Macauley (Text Publishing)
- The House of Youssef by Yumna Kassab (Giramondo Publishing)
- The Yield by Tara June Winch (Penguin Random House)
- Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us about Digital Technology by Lizzie O'Shea (Verso)
- Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson (HarperCollins Publishers)
- See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse by Jess Hill (Black Inc.)
- Songspirals: Sharing women's wisdom of Country through songlines by Gay'wu Group of Women (Allen & Unwin)
- Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
- The Girls by Chloe Higgins (Picador Australia)
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)
Birth Plan by L.K. Holt (Vagabond Press)
Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Cordite Books)
- Yuiquimbiang by Louise Crisp (Cordite Books)
Writing for Young Adults
How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (Pan Macmillan Australia)
Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard (Fremantle Press)
This is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
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)
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)
Archival-Poetics by Natalie Harkin (Vagabond Press)
The Future Keepers by Nandi Chinna (Fremantle Press)
Highway Bodies by Alison Evans (Echo Publishing)
When the Ground is Hard by by Malla Nunn (Allen & Unwin)
- I'll hold you by Jenni Mazaraki
- 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