AustLit logo
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Notes

  • Chosen by the judging committee from among the category winners of the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon Throat Ellen van Neerven , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2020 18673599 2020 selected work poetry

'Throat is the explosive second poetry collection from award-winning Mununjali Yugambeh writer Ellen van Neerven. Exploring love, language and land, van Neerven flexes their distinctive muscles and shines alight on Australia’s unreconciled past and precarious present with humour and heart. Van Neerven is unsparing in the interrogation of colonial impulse, and fiercely loyal to telling the stories that make us who we are.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon The Yield Tara June Winch , Melbourne : Hamish Hamilton , 2019 15449866 2019 single work novel

'After a decade in Europe August Gondiwindi returns to Australia for the funeral of her much-loved grandfather, Albert, at Prosperous House, her only real home and also a place of great grief and devastation.

'Leading up to his death Poppy Gondiwindi has been compiling a dictionary of the language he was forbidden from speaking after being sent to Prosperous House as a child. Poppy was the family storyteller and August is desperate to find the precious book that he had spent his last energies compiling.

'The Yield also tells the story of Reverend Greenleaf, who recalls founding the first mission at Prosperous House and recording the language of the first residents, before being interred as an enemy of the people, being German, during the First World War.

'The Yield, in exquisite prose, carefully and delicately wrestles with questions of environmental degradation, pre-white contact agriculture, theft of language and culture, water, religion and consumption within the realm of a family mourning the death of a beloved man.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Deep Time Dreaming : Uncovering Ancient Australia Billy Griffiths , Carlton : Black Inc. , 2018 12791018 2018 single work autobiography

'Soon after Billy Griffiths joins his first archaeological dig as camp manager and cook, he is hooked. Equipped with a historian’s inquiring mind, he embarks on a journey through time, seeking to understand the extraordinary deep history of the Australian continent.

'Deep Time Dreaming is the passionate product of that journey. It investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia.

'It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and belonging. It is about a slow shift in national consciousness: the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many of us relate to this continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Taboo Kim Scott , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2017 11490897 2017 single work novel

'From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years ...

'Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.

'But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

'We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.' (Publication summary)

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

Poet Ellen van Neervan Wins Book of the Year, Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and Multicultural NSW Award at NSW Premier's Literary Awards Dee Jefferson , 2021 single work column
— Appears in: ABC News [Online] , April 2021;
'Young Mununjali Yugambeh author Ellen van Neerven pulled off a hat-trick at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards for their second poetry collection, Throat, at an online ceremony on Monday evening.' (Introduction)
Indigenous Australian Author Tara June Winch Wins Book of the Year at NSW Premier's Literary Awards Kate Evans , 2020 single work column
— Appears in: ABC News [Online] , April 2020;

'Wiradjuri writer Tara June Winch has pulled off a hat-trick at the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards for her novel The Yield, taking home three major prizes, including the Book of the Year.'

Pascoe’s History a ‘Vision of an Australia Yet to Be’ 2016 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times [Online] , 17 May 2016;

'Bunurong man, Aboriginal language guru and jack of all trades Bruce Pascoe has taken out one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards with his latest work, Dark Emu.'

'The Victorian writer won Book of the Year category and shared the inaugural Indigenous Prize at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards announced at the State Library of NSW in Sydney last night.'

'Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light shared the indigenous award and $30,000 with Pascoe.'

Judging Blind Peter Kenneally , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , April 2015;
'A brief and unscientific survey of prizes in Australia had equally unsurprising results. From the Premier’s Awards in Victoria and New South Wales to the Newcastle Poetry Prize to the Josephine Ulrich or the Anne Elder Awards, among others, my list mirrors Fulton’s. Needless to say this is not a consciously racist exclusion, but a structural problem in Australian letters. Samuel Wagan Watson and Ali Cobby Eckermann, both Indigenous poets, won the NSW Book of the Year and the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, in 2005 and 2013 respectively. But in the awards I looked at they seem to be the only exceptions, especially of high profile poets who identify as non-white. That is only two out of a possible 120. As for the judges, it may be close to a clean sweep – after all you are hardly going to be called on as a judge unless you have won an award or two yourself.'
Untitled R. K. Barnes , 2011 single work correspondence
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 28 - 29 May 2011; (p. 15)
X