Winners of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards!

The 2019 winners for each category are…


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The winner of the Non-fiction category and the overall Victorian Prize for Literature is Behrouz Boochani for No Friend but the Mountains.

Since 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani has been detained in the Manus Island offshore detention facility. This book is the result of his nearly six years documenting life in the camp. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi by Omid Tofighian, it is a voice of witness, and an act of survival. No Friend but the Mountains defies easy categorisation: mixing poetry, critical theory, and memoir to create a lyric first-hand account, a cry of resistance, and a vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.


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The winner of the Fiction category is Elise Valmorbida for The Madonna of the Mountains.

The Madonna of the Mountains is a sumptuous and elegant story about one woman’s attempts to keep her family safe during the tumultuous historical flashpoints of mid-20th century Italy. This sweeping historical epic starts in 1923, as Maria Vittoria is married to the abusive Achille, and follows Maria’s travails in a country where fascism blooms as crops ripen, and the state craves babies as the babies cry for food.

Read our review of the book here.


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The winner of the Drama category is Kendall Feaver for The Almighty Sometimes.

The Almighty Sometimes is a harrowing and moving exploration of family dynamics. Diagnosed with a severe mental illness as a child, Anna was prescribed a cocktail of pills. As a young adult, she tries to move beyond the labels that have defined her, but her mother intervenes – threatening the fragile balance they have both fought hard to maintain.


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The winner of the Poetry category is Kate Lilley for Tilt.

Tilt, Lilley’s third full-length collection, follows the skewed itinerary of attachment and loss, possession and dispossession; the movement of people and things, from Greta Garbo’s Manhattan exile to the Green Bans of 1970s Sydney to the precarious passages of deracinated subjects.


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The winner of the Writing for Young Adults category is Ameblin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina for Catching Teller Crow.

Told in two voices, Catching Teller Crow interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family. Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man?

Read our review of the book here.


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The winner of the Indigenous Writing category is Kim Scott for Taboo.

Set in the rural South-West of Western Australia, Taboo tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit a taboo place: the site of a massacre. They come at the invitation of the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. At the request of his dying wife, he is attempting to cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.

Read our review of the book here.


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The winner of the People’s Choice award is Bri Lee for Eggshell Skull.

Bri Lee’s fierce and eloquent memoir traces her journey through the Australian legal system; from her childhood as the daughter of a policeman, to law student, to judge’s associate and assault survivor, to legal complainant. Throughout, Lee rigorously examines of the law, asking: ‘whose side is the law on and who should carry the burden of proof?’ Eggshell Skull addresses both Lee’s own reckoning with the past and speaks the truth with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. It is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice.

Read our review of the book here.


Find out more about the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards here.

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

Behrouz Boochani, Omid Tofighian

$32.99Buy now

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