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The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-Fiction
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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History

From 2011 onwards, the Victorian Premier's non-fiction literary award was re-named Non-Fiction.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner Paddy Manning for 'Body Count'.

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: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Something for the Pain : A Memoir of the Turf Gerald Murnane , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2015 8702842 2015 single work autobiography

'I never met anyone whose interest in racing matched my own. Both on and off the course, so to speak, I've enjoyed the company of many a racing acquaintance...I've read books, or parts of books, by persons who might have come close to being true racing friends of mine if ever we had met. For most of my long life, however, my enjoyment of racing has been a solitary thing: something I could never wholly explain to anyone else.

'As a boy, Gerald Murnane became obsessed with horse racing. He had never ridden a horse, nor seen a race. Yet he was fascinated by photos of horse races in the Sporting Globe, and by the incantation of horses' names in radio broadcasts of races. Murnane discovered in these races more than he could find in religion or philosophy: they were the gateway to a world of imagination.

'Gerald Murnane is like no other writer, and Something for the Pain is like no other Murnane book. In this unique and spellbinding memoir, he tells the story of his life through the lens of horse racing. It is candid, droll and moving—a treat for lovers of literature and of the turf. ' (Publication summary)

Year: 2010

winner y separately published work icon Reading by Moonlight : How Books Saved a Life Brenda Walker , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2010 Z1678187 2010 single work autobiography (taught in 2 units)

'The first time Brenda Walker packed her bag to go into hospital, she wondered which book to take with her. As a novelist and professor of literature, her life had been built around reading and writing. Now she was also a patient, being treated for breast cancer, fighting for her life and afraid for herself and her family. But turning to medicine didn't mean she turned away from fiction. Books had always been her solace and sustenance, and now choosing the right one was the most important thing she could do for herself.

'In Reading by Moonlight, Brenda describes the five stages of her treatment and how different books and authors helped her through the tumultuous process of recovery. As well as offering wonderful introductions and insights into the work of writers like Dante, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Beckett and Dickens, Brenda shows how the very process of reading - surrendering and then regathering yourself - echoes the process of healing.

'Reading by Moonlight guides, reassures, throws light on dark places, and finds beauty in the stories that come to us in times of jeopardy. It affirms that reading can be essential to life itself.' (From the publisher's website.)

Year: 2009

winner y separately published work icon The Tall Man : Death and Life on Palm Island Chloe Hooper , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2008 Z1483259 2008 single work prose (taught in 11 units) In November 2004, in the small township of Palm Island in the far north of Queensland, Detective Hurley arrested Cameron Doomadgee for swearing at him. Doomadgee was drunk. A few hours later he died in a watch-house cell. According to the inquest, his liver was so badly damaged it was almost severed. (Source: Trove)

Works About this Award

Editorial Zora Sanders , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: Meanjin , vol. 73 no. 1 2014; (p. 3)
War Tome Proves Prizeworthy Ashleigh Wilson , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 29 January 2014; (p. 3)
Rich Pickings for a Happy Historian Stephen Romei , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 7 September 2011; (p. 10)
Kudos for Palm Island Tale Miriam Cosic , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 2 September 2009; (p. 3)
Carey Wins Vance Palmer Gia Metherell , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 September 2006; (p. 17)
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