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Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2014 Shortlists Finally Announced

21 October 2014 272 views No Comment

After months of delays and uncertainty, the government finally announced the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (PMLA) shortlists yesterday.

Among the finalists in the fiction category is Richard Flanagan, who won the Man Booker Prize in London last week for his novel ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’. A few conservatives were riled when Flanagan, within minutes of winning his award told the BBC he was “ashamed to be Australian when asked about the government’s environmental and energy policies. Despite his comments Flanagan’s shortlisting might reduce any impression of bias coming from the newly re-constituted PMLA judging panel.

The completely new judging panel includes several conservative commentators and a former Liberal MP which came in for criticism earlier this year, A former PMLA judge, Colin Steele in Crikey said the 2014 panel “does reflect in some ways possibly a political bent.

The non-fiction and history panel was chaired by the conservative Australian Gerard Henderson and included former Liberal MP and ‘Quadrant’ magazine editor Peter Coleman (the father-in-law of former treasurer Peter Costello and columnist for ‘Spectator Australia’). The panel also included historian Ross Fitzgerald and psychiatrist Ida Litcher, both of whom are contributors to ‘The Australian.’

Fiction and poetry were chaired by Louise Adler, publisher of Tony Abbott’s book ‘Battlelines’ and one of the judges for both categories was poet Les Murray, who is also the current poetry editor of ‘Quadrant’ magazine.

Short-listed books in the non-fiction category include ‘The Lucky Culture’ by Nick Cater, an editor at ‘The Australian’, (heavily criticised by Guy Rundle on Crikey last year) and Hal G.P. Colebatch’s ‘Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II’, published by Quadrant Books.

The six winners of each category are more likely to be announced next month and will each receive a tax-free prize of $100,000 making the PMLA Australia’s richest literary prize.

The shortlist :


A World of Other People, Steven Carroll (Harper Collins)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Vintage Australia)
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane (Penguin: Hamish Hamilton)
Coal Creek, Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)
Belomor, Nicolas Rothwell (Text Publishing)


Tempo, Sarah Day (Puncher & Wattmann Poetry)
Eldershaw, Stephen Edgar (Black Pepper)
1953, Geoff Page (University of Queensland Press)
Drag Down to Unlock or Place an Emergency Call, Melinda Smith (Pitt Street Poetry)
Chains of Snow, Jakob Ziguras (Pitt Street Poetry)


Moving Among Strangers, Gabrielle Carey (University of Queensland Press)
The Lucky Culture, Nick Cater (Harper Collins Publishers)
Citizen Emperor, Philip Dwyer (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Rendezvous with Destiny, Michael Fullilove (Penguin)
Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John, Helen Trinca (Text Publishing)

Prize for Australian History

Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War, Joan Beaumont (Allen & Unwin)
First Victory 1914, Mike Carlton (Random House)
Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II, Hal G.P. Colebatch (Quadrant Books)
Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy, Michael Pembroke (Hardie Grant Books)
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Clare Wright (Text Publishing)

Young Adult Fiction

The Incredible Here and Now, Felicity Castagna (Giramondo)
Pureheart, Cassandra Golds (Penguin)
Girl Defective, Simmone Howell (Pan Macmillan)
Life in Outer Space, Melissa Keil (Hardie Grant Egmont)
The First Third, Will Kostakis (Penguin)

Children’s Fiction

Silver Buttons, Bob Graham (Walker Books )
Song for a Scarlet Runner, Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
My Life as an Alphabet, Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)
Kissed by the Moon, Alison Lester (Puffin)
Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette)

Simon Vallenet, The Daily Review, October 20, 2014.

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