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…


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


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


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


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


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


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


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).

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Australia Day

Australia Day

Melanie Cheng

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