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Australian authors share in $600,000 worth of prize money at the Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Australian authors share in $600,000 worth of prize money at the Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Gerald Murnane, author of 13 books including The Plains and his 2015 memoir, Something for the Pain: A memoir of the turf, has won the Fiction category of this year’s Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for his most recent novel, Border Districts.

The win brings much-deserved recognition for the 79-year-old writer, who was recently heralded by the New York Times as ‘greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of’. Murnane is considered a serious contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature, yet he has rarely been shortlisted for major awards on home soil.

Murnane says Border Districts is his last novel. In an address he gave earlier this year, Murnane said he feels that his readers are ‘in possession of all that I’m capable of giving them.’

The winner of the Non-Fiction category is Richard McGregor with Asia’s Reckoning: The struggle for global dominance, which examines the tense political, historical and economic relationships between three of the world’s great powers: China, Japan, and the US.

McGregor is the author of The Party: The secret world of China’s communist rulers, and has been reporting on Asia for two decades.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards are in their 11th year, and this year have distributed $600,000 worth of prize money to Australian authors across six categories.

Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, said at a ceremony in Canberra today, ‘Australian literature helps us to understand who we are as a nation and our place in the world. With more than 500 entries this year capturing a broad range of themes, the judges had the difficult task of shortlisting just 30 titles.’ 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke at the awards of the power and importance of literature, saying 'Of all the human experiences, reading is one of the most personal. It’s deeply personal.'

The full winners of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards are as follows: 

  • Australian History: John Curtin’s War: The coming of war in the Pacific, and reinventing Australia, Volume 1by John Edwards, Penguin Random House
  • Fiction: Border Districts by Gerald Murnane, Giramondo Publishing
  • Young Adult Literature: This is My Song by Richard Yaxley, Scholastic Australia
  • Children’s Literature: Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Allen & Unwin
  • Poetry: Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria by Brian Castro, Giramondo Publishing
  • Non-Fiction: Asia’s Reckoning: The struggle for global dominance by Richard McGregor, Penguin Random House UK.

Find out more about the award winners at www.arts.gov.au/pmla.