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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners’ announcement

Media release
21 August 2008

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The Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, will announce the winners of the 2008 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Fiction and Non-Fiction at an evening event to be held in the Mural Hall at Parliament House on 12 September 2008.

Announcing the date for the awards’ presentation today, Arts Minister Peter Garrett said that the 14 shortlisted authors had presented the two judging panels with very difficult choices.

“After an exhausting but rewarding process the judging panels have recommended to the Prime Minister two short-lists of outstanding breadth and depth,” he said.

The short list for fiction is: Burning In, Mireille Juchau; El Dorado, Dorothy Porter; Jamaica: A novel, Malcolm Knox; Sorry, Gail Jones; The Complete Stories, David Malouf; The Widow and Her Hero, Tom Keneally and The Zookeeper's War, Steven Conte.

The short list for non-fiction is: A History of Queensland, Raymond Evans; Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, Clive James; My Life as a Traitor, Zarah Ghahramani with Robert Hillman; Napoleon: The Path to Power, 1769-1799, Philip Dwyer; Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers, Philip Jones; Shakespeare's Wife, Germaine Greer and Vietnam: The Australian War, Paul Ham.

The seven short-listed fiction books include prose, a compilation of short stories and a verse novel. Represented in the fiction short list are established authors, such as David Malouf and Tom Keneally, and emerging authors such as Steven Conte. The works examine notions of masculinity, heroism, loss, survival, grief and reconciliation. Of the seven short-listed books, three are set during the Second World War and three are set predominantly overseas.

The seven short-listed non-fiction books include histories, memoir, biography, essays and political analysis. The authors include well known cultural figures such as Clive James and Germaine Greer, respected historians such as Paul Ham and the Iranian-born Zarah Ghahramani with her first published work. More than half the works focus on non-Australian themes, highlighting the true international scope of the books being considered.

“These authors have succeeded in bringing to life uniquely Australian characters and stories, as well as exploring themes from beyond our shores. These awards showcase our rich literary talent and recognise the significant contribution of Australian writers to our culture,” Mr Garrett said.

The Australian Government has introduced the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards to recognise the major contribution of Australian literature to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life. The awards offer a tax free prize of $100,000 for both a fiction and non-fiction work judged to be of the highest literary merit in each category.

Visit  for full details on the short list.


Mural Hall, Parliament House
5.30pm (for 6pm) to 9pm 12 September 2008

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