The winners of the fifth annual Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced today at the National Library of Australia. The awards, which ‘celebrate the contribution of Australian literature and history to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life,’ are the richest in Australia, with $80,000 going to the winner in each category, as well as $5,000 to the shortlisted titles.

Importantly, the prize money is also tax free, a status the Miles Franklin Literary Awards have been campaigning to allow for their own prize money.

From a record 509 entries across six categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Australian History, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction, and, for the first time this year, a Poetry award – the winners were selected from shortlists of five works in each category (you can view the full record of shortlisted titles here).

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The winners in each of the six categories are:

  • Fiction – Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears (Allen & Unwin)
  • Poetry – Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies (Allen & Unwin)
  • Non-fiction – An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna (Melbourne University Press)
  • Prize for Australian History – The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage (Allen & Unwin)
  • Young adult fiction – When We Were Two by Robert Newton  (Penguin)
  • Children’s fiction – Goodnight, Mice! By Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson (Harper Collins)

But the big winner appears to be Allen & Unwin, who won in three of the six categories – Fiction (Foal’s Bread), Poetry (Interferon Psalms) and Australian History (The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia). The three other winning publishers were Melbourne University Press in Non-Fiction (An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark), Penguin in Young Adult Fiction (When We Were Two), and Harper Collins in Children’s Fiction (Goodnight, Mice!).

It is wonderful to see the very deserving Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears take out the Fiction prize, especially after coming so close to winning the Miles Franklin earlier this year. Foal’s Bread was up against two other Miles Franklin longlisted nominees, Kate Grenville’s Sarah Thornhill and Alex Miller’s Autumn Laing, as well as the 2012 Miles Franllin winner, All That I Am.

Congratulations to all the authors.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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