Which literary prize winner should I read over the holidays?

Winner of the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2015

The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop

No 2015 prize list would be complete without mentioning the amazing winner of our own Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Stephanie Bishop’s exquisite second novel blew our judges away this year. Chair of judges Elke Power described The Other Side of the World as unforgettable, while our reviewer said the writing had, ‘haunting beauty reminiscent of the writings of Emily Brontë and Virginia Woolf’.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2015

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Marlon James made history by becoming the first Jamaican novelist to win the Man Booker Prize. He is also the first black winner since Ben Okri in 1991, and the first openly gay winner since Alan Hollinghurst in 2004. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings is set across three decades and explores the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics. Chair of the judges Michael Wood said, ‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

Winner of the Stella Prize 2015

The Strays by Emily Bitto

Loosely based on Australia’s Heide artists circle, The Strays tells the story of childhood friends Lily and Eva and their shifting relationship as they grow into adulthood. Chair of the judges Kerryn Goldsworthy described the novel as, ‘both moving and sophisticated; well-researched and original; intellectually engaging and emotionally gripping’.

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2015

The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna

The Eye of the Sheep is the story of a family struggling to cope with their young son, Jimmy Flick, who has learning difficulties. Chair of judges Richard Neville said, ‘ The Eye of the Sheep is an extraordinary novel about love and anger, and how sometimes there is little between them… Jimmy Flick is a character who sees everything, but his manic x-ray perceptions don’t correspond with the way others see his world.’

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German orphan, whose paths collide in occupied France during World War II, All the Light We Cannot See is an ambitious, dazzling work that was ten years in the writing.

Winner of the National Book Award for Non-fiction 2015

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

From the judges: ‘Composed as a letter to his adolescent son, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes with chilling bleakness and precision about racism in America. This is no simple account of racism, but rather a concise attack on a system which has consistently rendered black lives worthless. Incorporating history and personal memoir, Coates has succeeded in creating an essential text for any thinking American today.’

Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain. In this year’s winner, a troupe of travelling actors and musicians bring Shakespeare to America’s isolated survivors in the aftermath of a global pandemic that wipes out most of civilisation. Chair of the Judges Andrew M. Butler said, ‘While many post-apocalypse novels focus on the survival of humanity, Station Eleven focuses instead on the survival of our culture, with the novel becoming an elegy for the hyper-globalised present.’

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Prize 2015

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

Set in the underbelly of New York, Preparation for the Next Life exposes an America as seen from the fringes of society in devastating detail and destroys the myth of the American Dream through two of the most remarkable characters in contemporary fiction. This devastating novel was the winner of the Paris Review Plimpton Prize for Fiction as well as the PEN/Faulkner Prize. Plus, it’s one of our top ten fiction books of this year.

Winner of the Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award 2015

The Memory Trap by Andrea Goldsmith

Our own Managing Director Mark Rubbo was a judge for the prestigious Melbourne Prize this year, which named Andrea Goldsmith’s The Memory Trap the winner of the Best Writing Award. This prize is awarded to a single work – fiction, non-fiction, poetry or script – published in the previous three years. In his review of the book from its initial publication, Rubbo wrote, ‘This is a wonderful and engrossing novel.’

Winner of the Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal 2015

Drones and Phantoms by Jennifer Maiden

The Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal is awared to ‘an outstanding literary work’ each year, and this year’s winner was Jennifer Maiden’s poetry collection, Drones and Phantoms. Following the acclaimed Liquid Nitrogen, Maiden again interweaves the personal and the political to stunning effect.

Winner of the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2015

When There’s Nowhere Else to Run by Murray Middleton

This year’s winner of the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award is a collection of short stories featuring teachers, lawyers, nurses, firemen, chefs, gamblers, war veterans, hard drinkers, adulterers, widows and romantics. The Australian described Murray Middleton as a major new talent, and his stories as harrowing and beautiful.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman

Neuro-warrior Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes is the first popular science book to win the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. An optimistic and thoroughly researched take on autism, Neurotribes has been described as ‘the book that families affected by autism have long deserved’.

Winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2015

The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts

The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates books that engage with medicine, health or illness. This year’s winner is Marion Coutts’s account of the 18 months leading up to the death of her partner, art critic Tom Lubbock, from a brain tumor. Chair of Judges Bill Bryson said: ‘Marion Coutts’s account of living with her husband’s illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world – it stays with you for a long time after.’

Indie Book of the Year 2015

The Bush by Don Watson

Part memoir, part travel document – The Bush is a warm and intelligent exploration of the Australian bush. Not only was it one of our top ten non-fiction picks of 2014, but it was also voted Indie Book of the Year in 2015 by independent booksellers around the nation.

Find more literary prize winners from the past year here. You can also find 2015 literary prize winners for kids and teens here.

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Cover image for The Eye of the Sheep

The Eye of the Sheep

Sofie Laguna

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