Prime Minister's literary awards shortlists announced for 2021

  • Written by Scott Morrison

The 2021 Prime Minister's Literary Awards shortlists capture the full diversity and range of Australia’s vibrant literary sector.

The shortlists have been announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher.

The Awards acknowledge the significant contribution literature, history and poetry have in connecting us to Australian voices and our story as a nation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this year’s shortlists celebrated Australia’s talented literary sector in a year when so many Australians turned to reading.

“Australia’s storytellers and historians have provided a place for reflection as we have faced the ongoing challenges of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister said.

“That’s the power of our literature and the stories being told. Congratulations to everyone shortlisted, and thank you to the judges.”

Minister Fletcher said the 2021 shortlists highlight the exceptional talent of Australian writers.

“This year’s shortlists have captured diverse voices that make up Australia’s talented literary community,” Minister Fletcher said.

“Our writers, poets, historians and illustrators have continued to produce works of literary excellence, making the judging for this year’s shortlist incredibly difficult. We received more than 470 entries, and our judges had the difficult task of selecting 30 books.

“Congratulations to the shortlisted authors and thank you to the judges for their expertise and commitment.”

Winners of the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards will be announced in December.

For more information on the shortlists, including judging panel comments, visit:

The 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists are:


  • A Treacherous Country, K.M. Kruimink, Allen & Unwin
  • In the Time of Foxes, Jo Lennan, Simon & Schuster: Scribner Australia
  • Lucky’s, Andrew Pippos, Pan Macmillan: Picador Australia
  • The Bass Rock, Evie Wyld, Penguin Random House: Vintage
  • The Labyrinth, Amanda Lohrey, Text Publishing



  • Flight Lines: Across the Globe on a Journey with the Astonishing Ultramarathon Birds, Andrew Darby, Allen & Unwin
  • The Altar Boys, Suzanne Smith, HarperCollins Publishing: ABC Books
  • The Details: On Love, Death and Reading, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Simon & Schuster: Scribner Australia
  • The Stranger Artist: Life at the Edge of Kimberley Painting, Quentin Sprague, Hardie Grant Publishing
  • Truganini: Journey Through the Apocalypse, Cassandra Pybus, Allen & Unwin


Australian history

  • Ceremony Men: Making Ethnography and the Return of the Strehlow Collection, Jason M. Gibson, State University of New York Press
  • Pathfinders: A History of Aboriginal Trackers in NSW,  Michael Bennett, NewSouth Publishing
  • People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia, Grace Karskens, Allen & Unwin
  • Representing Australian Aboriginal Music and Dance 1930-1970, Amanda Harris, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • The Convict Valley: The Bloody Struggle on Australia's Early Frontier, Mark Dunn, Allen & Unwin



  • Change Machine, Jaya Savige, University of Queensland Press
  • Homer Street, Laurie Duggan, Giramondo Publishing
  • Nothing to Declare, Mags Webster, Puncher & Wattmann
  • Shorter Lives, John A. Scott, Puncher & Wattmann
  • The Strangest Place, New and Selected Poems, Stephen Edgar, Black Pepper


Children’s literature

  • Fly on the Wall, Remy Lai, Walker Books Australia,
  • How to Make a Bird, Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Matt Ottley, Walker Books Australia
  • The January Stars, Kate Constable, Allen & Unwin
  • The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst, Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby, Allen & Unwin
  • The Year the Maps Changed, Danielle Binks, Hachette Australia: Lothian Children’s Books


Young adult literature

  • Loner, Georgina Young, Text Publishing
  • Metal Fish, Falling Snow, Cath Moore, Text Publishing
  • The End of the World is Bigger than Love, Davina Bell, Text Publishing
  • The F Team, Rawah Arja , Giramondo Publishing
  • When Rain Turns to Snow, Jane Godwin, Hachette Australia: Lothian Children’s Books
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