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Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Read Monday, 1 Feb 2021

The winners of the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced tonight by the Minister for Creative Industries, Danny Pearson. For the first time, the Awards ceremony was held as a free online digital event.

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Composite image of the winners: Laura Jean McKay, Paddy Manning, Angus Cerini, David Stavanger, Cath Moore, Archie Roach, André Dao and Louise Milligan
The winners of the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards: Laura Jean McKay, Paddy Manning, Angus Cerini, David Stavanger, Cath Moore, Archie Roach, André Dao and Louise Milligan

A key initiative of the Victorian government and administered by the Wheeler Centre, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards mark the start of the national literary Awards calendar and are now in their 36th year.​

Prize money of $25,000 was awarded in each of the following categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Indigenous Writing, Drama, Poetry and Writing for Young Adults. A prize of $15,000 was awarded to the winner of the Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript. All seven of the Award categories went on to contest Australia’s richest literary prize, the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature.

The major award for the night, the Victorian Prize for Literature, was won by Laura Jean McKay whose novel, The Animals in That Country, also took out the Prize for Fiction. Bold, exhilarating and wholly original, McKay’s book is a gripping and timely story about a pandemic that focuses on the ethics of human-animal interactions, asking what would happen – for better or worse – if we finally understood what animals were saying? Laura worked on The Animals in That Country during her time as a 2018 Hot Desk Fellowship recipient at the Wheeler Centre. 

The People’s Choice Award, worth $2,000, went to Louise Milligan for Witness: An Investigation into the Brutal Cost of Seeking Justice. Charting the experiences of those who have the courage to come forward and face their abusers in high-profile child abuse and sexual assault cases, Witness is a call for change.

For the judges’ comments and more information on the shortlisted titles, see here. To watch the Awards announcement click here.

Winners of the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Victorian Prize for Literature
The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (Victoria, Scribe Publications)

Prize for Fiction
The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (Victoria, Scribe Publications)

Prize for Non-Fiction
Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us by Paddy Manning (NSW, Simon & Schuster Australia)

Prize for Drama
Wonnangatta by Angus Cerini (Victoria, Sydney Theatre Company)

Prize for Poetry
Case Notes by David Stavanger (NSW, UWA Publishing)

Prize for Young Adult Writing
Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore (Victoria, Text Publishing)

Prize for Indigenous Writing
Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music by Archie Roach (Victoria, Simon & Schuster Australia)

Unpublished Manuscript Award
Anam by André Dao (Victoria)

People’s Choice Award
Witness: An Investigation into the Brutal Cost of Seeking Justice by Louise Milligan (Hachette Australia)

Read about all the shortlisted titles – including excerpts – here.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.