The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction


The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction winner 2016

The winner of The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2016 is Music and Freedom by Zoë Morrison.

Music and Freedom is Morrison’s first novel. Set over a period of 70 years, it is a profound and moving portrait of one woman’s life, ranging from rural Australia in the 1930s to England in the modern day. In the tradition of Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett, Music and Freedom digs deeply into the marriage, relationships and ambitions of its central protagonist, Alice. The novel examines what it means to suffer regret and heartbreak, to make difficult choices and live with the consequences, and to find hope and passion in your darkest hour.

Guest judge Maxine Beneba Clarke says, ‘Exploring themes of love, loneliness, and the price of artistic expression, Music and Freedom is an ambitious and considered debut novel. Morrison’s characters are vividly drawn, and their relationships portrayed with exquisite sensitivity. The novel is engaging and structurally sound. Morrison writes about sound and music with a joy and poetry even the unmusical can appreciate – providing a stunning and heartfelt counter to the dark relationship that forms between the two main characters. Music and Freedom is challenging, stylistically sure, accomplished, and consistent. Above all though, it is simply a good story, beautifully written.’

The Prize judges were united in considering the novel a sophisticated and intelligent work of fiction that demonstrated the author’s keen eye for detail and her extraordinary ability to write about classical music. The judges felt the novel to be deserving of a wide readership, both within Australia and overseas. Mark Rubbo, managing director of Readings, described Music and Freedom as a ‘stimulating, thought-provoking and immensely satisfying book’.

You can find more thoughts from all the judges here.

Alongside Music and Freedom, the shortlist for this year’s Prize included Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh, The High Places by Fiona McFarlane, Wood Green by Sean Rabin, Ruins by Rajith Savanadasa, and Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar. Beneba Clarke observed that, ‘together, these books show what the future of Australian fiction will look like: bright, challenging, ambitious, eloquent, diverse and daring. I look forward to being a part of it.’

You can read more about the shortlisted books here.

About the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction

Established in 2014, The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction (originally known as the Readings New Australian Writing Award) supports published Australian authors working in fiction, and recognises exciting and exceptional new contributions to local literature. The Prize aims to increase the promotion and commercial success of books by Australian authors, earning them greater recognition from the wider community. First or second published works of fiction are eligible, and in 2017 the winner will receive prize money of $4000.

Previous recipients include Ceridwen Dovey for her fiction collection, Only the Animals, which the judges described as, ‘one of the boldest Australian short-story collections in recent years’, and Stephanie Bishop for her novel, The Other Side of the World, which the judges described as, ‘a significant and exciting contribution to the Australian literary canon’.

The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2017

Each year, a shortlist of six titles is selected by a revoling panel of Readings booksellers. 2017 judges include Annie Condon (Hawthorn), Gabrielle Williams (Malvern), Marie Matteson (Carlton) and Ann le Lievre (Schools and Libraries Liasion). Once the shortlist has been decided, a guest judge will join the panel to select a winner. In 2017, the winner will receive prize money of $3000.

Eligibility Guidelines for 2017

  • The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction is open to a work of published fiction that may be a novel, a verse novel or a collection of short stories by a single author.
  • The author must be an Australian citizen or hold permanent residency at the time of entry.
  • The book must be the author’s first or second published work of fiction only.
  • Books published only in e-book form are not eligible to be entered.
  • Self-published works are not eligible to be entered.
  • Entries must be published in English.
  • Authors must be living at the date of publication.
  • To be eligible for the 2017 Prize, books must have been first published between 23 July 2016 and 22 July 2017.
  • Authors who are employed by Readings during the judging period for each year are not eligible for the Prize. For the 2016 Prize round, this period is from Thursday 23 July 2016, through to Friday 28 October 2017.
  • Authors who win the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction will no longer be eligible for this Prize in future years.

Entry Guidelines for 2017

There is no process for entering the Prize. The judging panel, comprised of experienced Readings’ staff, will decide on eligible titles and invite respective publishers to submit no more than seven reading copies of the nominated book for Prize consideration throughout the eligibility period.


Enquiries should be directed to the Prize Manager Bronte Coates at