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Victorian Prize for Literature
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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Notes

  • The Victorian Prize for Literature was inaugurated in 2011 by the Victorian premier, the Hon. Ted Baillieu. The award, initially valued at $100,000, is for the overall winner chosen from among the category winners in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon The Animals in that Country Laura McKay , Melbourne : Scribe , 2020 18465113 2020 single work novel fantasy

'Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue.

'Then one day, disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country. This is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. But as the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds.

'When Jean’s infected son, Lee, takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin. Setting off on their trail, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun, they find themselves in a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species.

'Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in That Country asks what it means to be human — and what would happen, for better or worse, if we finally understood what animals were saying.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Counting and Cracking S. Shakthidharan , 2019 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2020 14530930 2019 single work drama

'On the banks of the Georges River, Radha and her son Siddhartha release the ashes of Radha’s mother – their final connection to the past, to Sri Lanka and its struggles. Now they are free to embrace their lives in Australia. Then a phone call from Colombo brings the past spinning back to life, and we are plunged into an epic story of love and political strife, of home and exile, of parents and children

'Counting and Cracking is a big new play about Australia like none we’ve seen before. This is life on a large canvas, so we are leaving Belvoir St and building a Sri Lankan town hall inside Sydney Town Hall. Sixteen actors play four generations of a family, from Colombo to Pendle Hill, in a story about Australia as a land of refuge, about Sri Lanka’s efforts to remain united, about reconciliation within families, across countries, across generations.'

Source: Belvoir St Theatre.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon No Friend but the Mountains : Writing From Manus Prison No Friend but the Mountains : The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee Behrouz Boochani , Omid Tofighian (translator), Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2018 14342605 2018 selected work prose

'Where have I come from? From the land of rivers, the land of waterfalls, the land of ancient chants, the land of mountains...

'Since 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani has been held in the Manus Island offshore processing centre.

'People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests...

'This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.

'Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains? '  (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Trauma Cleaner The Trauma Cleaner : One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster Sarah Krasnostein , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11873511 2017 single work biography

'I call my dad from the car and ask him about his morning, tell him about mine.

'‘What kind of hoarder was she?’ he asks.

'‘Books and cats, mainly,’ I tell the man who loves his cats and who I know is now actively considering his extensive book collection.

'‘What’s the difference between a private library and a book hoarder?’ he wonders.

'We are both silent before we laugh and answer in unison: ‘Faeces.’

'But the difference is this phone call. And the others like it I could make—and how strong we are when we are loved.

'Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife…

'But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

'A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

'Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead—and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2016 11151204 2016 single work drama

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Kick up the Arts Would Benefit Us All Chips Mackinolty , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: NT News , 14 February 2016; (p. 12)
Scott Wins Victoria's Top Book Prize Jason Steger , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The West Australian , 8 September 2011; (p. 10)
New Prize Makes Victoria Home to Australia's Richest Writing Award Jason Steger , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 22 April 2011; (p. 5)
Undercover Marc McEvoy , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 30 April - 1 May 2011; (p. 29)
A column canvassing current literary news including a brief report on the establishment of the Victorian Prize for Literature. McEvoy also notes the final week for voting in the 2011 People's Choice Awards in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards and the joint launch of Kate Forsyth's The Starkin Crown and Belinda Murrell's The Ivory Rose.
Bookmarks Jason Steger , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 30 April 2011; (p. 29)
A column canvassing current literary news including comments on the establishment of the Victorian Prize for Literature, the 2011 Get Reading campaign, the Clunes Back to Booktown weekend and Philip Luker's biography of Phillip Adams.
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