Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden is winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Poetry Prize.

The winners of the prestigious 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were announced last night at a ceremony at Government House. There were twenty-one (the Premier’s 21) shortlisted titles across five categories including fiction, non-fiction, young adult, poetry and drama.

In introducing Australia’s richest literary awards, Premier of Victoria, Denis Napthine, said that nearly half of Victoria’s population are members of their public library, and that 51 million books are borrowed in Victorian libraries each year.

The shortlisted titles are listed here and winners are highlighted in red:

Prize for Poetry  

  • Liquid Nitrogen (Jennifer Maiden, Giramondo)
  • Autoethnographic (Michael Brennan, Giramondo)
  • Travelling through the Family (Brendan Ryan, Hunter Publishers)

Judges: Gig Ryan, Lisa Jacobson, Paul Mitchell

Prize for Fiction

  • Burial Rites (Hannah Kent, Picador) People’s Choice Award
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan, Vintage)
  • Coal Creek (Alex Miller, Allen &Unwin) Category Winner
  • The Swan Book (Alexis Wright, Giramondo)
  • Eyrie (Tim Winton, Hamish Hamilton)
  • Questions of Travel (Michelle de Kretser, Allen &Unwin)

Judges: Blanche Clark, Tony Birch, Peter Mews

Prize for Non-Fiction

  • Gardens of Fire: An Investigative Memoir (Robert Kenny, UWA Publishing)
  • White Beech (Germaine Greer, Bloomsbury)
  • Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir (Kristina Olsson, UQP)
  • Forgotten War (Henry Reynolds, NewSouth)
  • Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John (Helen Trinca, Text)
  • On Warne (Gideon Haigh, Hamish Hamilton)
  • Commended: Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari, by Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Judges: Kristin Otto, Kate Darian-Smith, Belle Place, Michael Green, Kaz Cooke

Prize for Writing for Young Adults

  • Friday Brown (Vikki Wakefield, Text)
  • Wildlife (Fiona Wood, Pan Macmillan)
  • My Life as an Alphabet (Barry Jonsberg, Allen & Unwin)

Judges: Anna Burkey, Hilary Harper, Alice Pung

Prize for Drama

  • Savages (Patricia Cornelius, fortyfivedownstairs)
  • The Secret River (Kate Grenville, adapted by Andrew Bovell)
  • Medea (Anne-Louise Sarks & Kate Mulvany)

Judges: Ailsa Piper, Sian Prior, John Bailey

It is wonderful news that poetry was the big winner of the night with the Victorian Prize for Literature which is the largest literary award in Australia, going to Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden. Published by indie publisher Giramondo, this collection also won the poetry category.

As mentioned in my reviews roundup for the Premier’s 21 shortlist announcement last December, Australian Women Writers Challenge participant Magdalena Ball reviewed Liquid Nitrogen and loved the collection. She said: “There’s something deeply original about Jennifer Maiden’s poetry. Perhaps it’s the way Maiden manages to combine such disparate and seeming unconnected images into a smooth, almost narrative presentation. Perhaps it’s the utterly female way in which the domestic, the political, the personal, and the universal are woven together so that there’s almost no distinction. … There is so much to unpack here in this dense, rich collection which is “stunningly cool but alive/within with information, like/liquid nitrogen.” (80) If decide to read Liquid Nitrogen as part of your AWW2014 Challenge, don’t forget to link to your review.

Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

People’s Choice Award Winner

Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites won the People’s Choice award and appropriately, it was reviewed 21 times by AWW Challenge participants in 2013, making it the “most popular” book in terms of number of reviews. You can read about some of those reviews here. And as always, you can access the full range of reviews via this link.

Patricia Cornelius won the Drama category for Savages, a play inspired by the Dianne Brimble case.

The Unpublished Manuscript Award will be announced during the 2014 Emerging Writers’ Festival in February.

Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted writers!

About Me

I’m a freelance book reviewer, journalist, writer and editor. I blog over at Wordsville and can be found on Twitter @PaulaGrunseit