The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction shortlist 2017

The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction considers first and second books from Australian authors, with the aim of recognising exciting and exceptional new contributions to local literature.

Over the past year, the judges have read their way through over 70 Australian titles and were impressed by the number of edgy voices who didn’t shy away from starkly original concepts. The task of filtering the terrific longlist down to a shortlist of just six books was difficult, but in the end they considered the following books to be their top picks…


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The Windy Season by Sam Carmody

The Windy Season pulls the reader into a landscape which is violent, treacherous and unforgiving. 17-year-old Paul travels to a remote fishing community in search of his lost brother, and is drawn into a dangerous world. The language is immersive, the pace relentless. The Windy Season roars down and batters the senses. Unforgettable.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Sam Carmody here


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Australia Day by Melanie Cheng

The stories that make up Australia Day illuminate the lives of characters living in modern Australia who are not typically represented. Cheng’s writing examines ethnicity and the desire to ‘belong’ in a globalised society. The variations in character and viewpoint demonstrate that there are no easy answers to modern dilemmas. Cheng is talented at both creating characters, and writing compelling literature.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Melanie Cheng here


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Jean Harley Was Here by Heather Taylor Johnson

Jean Harley is knocked down by a van as she’s riding her bike to work. Although we never meet her, we get to know her through the multiple viewpoints of friends, family, the man who drove the van, and even the family dog. While the subject matter is grim, the author maintains a light touch, infusing the book with humour, soul, and most importantly, hope.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Heather Taylor Johnson here


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The Good People by Hannah Kent

Kent demonstrates meticulous research in locating this superb novel in rural Ireland of 1825. The writing is compelling and atmospheric, and focuses on a young disabled boy being cared for by his grandmother and a teenaged servant girl, in an era where disability is shameful and hidden. Here is an accomplished storyteller, with true compassion for her characters.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Hannah Kent here


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The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić

An imagined memoir of Franz Kafka’s literary executor Max Brod, The Lost Pages is a psychological examination of rivalry, madness and unrequited love. The deepest of human emotions are laid bare and sifted through with a clear eye by the author. At times farcical, at other times surreal, this book is utterly unique.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Marija Peričić here


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From the Wreck by Jane Rawson

A truly original voice in the landscape of Australian historical fiction, From the Wreck features an alien cephalopod and a shipwreck survivor in 1850s South Australia. This novel brings the twin strands of history and trauma together in a lyrical and visceral meditation on the cost of survival.

You can download book club notes here

You can read more about Jane Rawson here


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Enter our reading challenge and win a $100 Readings gift voucher

1. Pick up a specially-priced pack of all six shortlisted books ($139.95, was $169.86).

3. Read your way through all six books on the shortlist. If you’re taking on the challenge as a book club, you might like to download our book club notes for each book.

3. When ready, enter our 2017 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction Quiz. You will automatically go in the draw win a $100 Readings gift voucher. This competition will end on Friday 20 October, and the winner will be drawn by Friday 3 November. Only the winner will be notified.


The judging panel for this year’s Prize was chaired by Gabrielle Williams (Readings Malvern) and included Ann Le Lievre (Schools & Libraries Liaison), Marie Matteson (Readings Carlton), and Annie Condon (Readings Hawthorn). Managing Director Mark Rubbo and celebrated author Christos Tsiolkas will now join the panel to select the winner from the shortlist.

The winner will be announced online in late October, and will be featured in the November issue of Readings Monthly. They will receive prize money of $3,000.


You can read more about the Prize here.

You can buy a specially-priced pack of all six shortlisted books here for $139.95 (was $169.86).

 Read review
Australia Day

Australia Day

Melanie Cheng

$29.99Buy now

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 Read reviewThe Good People

The Good People

Hannah Kent

In the year 1825, in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland, near the Flesk river of Killarney, three women are brought together by strange and troubling events.

$19.99Buy now

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Jean Harley was Here

Jean Harley was Here

Heather Taylor Johnson

A woman opens her car door, knocking a passing cyclist into the path of an oncoming van. The cyclist is Jean Harley. But this is not Jean's story, nor is it the story of her death. It is the stories of the people she leaves...

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The Lost Pages

The Lost Pages

Marija Pericic

In this inspired novel of friendship, fraud, madness and betrayal, Marija Peričić writes vividly and compellingly of an extraordinary literary rivalry.

$29.99Buy now

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 Read reviewAustralia Day

Australia Day

Melanie Cheng

An important and illuminating debut fiction collection about Australian life and identity.

$29.99Buy now

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 Read reviewFrom the Wreck

From the Wreck

Jane Rawson

‘It's hard to find the right words to praise this novel. I think we need a whole new critical vocabulary to be invented. Rawson recreates a vanished historical world with utterly convincing characters as well as inhabits the...

$29.95Buy now

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 Special priceThe Windy Season

The Windy Season

Sam Carmody

An energetically wonderfully Australian story: set in Geraldton, WA, there are sharks, fishermen and accidents with evocative, memorable descriptions of the sea, fishing and the emptiness of loss.

$26.99Buy now

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