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14 Brilliant Australian Books That Won Prizes in 2015

We recently asked our Facebook followers which Australian writers they knew and liked. The responses included many familiar names – Peter Carey, Kate Grenville and Tim Winton and others. While these are all, of course, very fine writers, there are many more fantastic authors from our homeland that we would love for our readers to know about.

Here are just some of the great books published in Australia recently, all of which have won major prizes.

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Winner of the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year

In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.


The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia by Don Watson
Winner of the Indie Book of the Year 

A milestone work of memoir, travel writing and history, The Bush takes us on a profoundly revelatory and entertaining journey through the Australian landscape and character.

The Golden Age by Joan London
Winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction

This, the third novel by one of our favourite writers, is an unlikely love story set in The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Home in Perth. Literary editor Geordie Williamson wrote “It is a measure of London’s deftness as a storyteller that the novel is also a universal meditation on nostalgia and hope, belonging and exile, love and loss, old world and new.”


The Protected by Claire Zorn

The Protected by Claire Zorn
Winners of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year for Older Readers

The Protected starts nearly a year after Hannah’s sister Katie died in a car accident; her family is predictably shattered as a result. This is a beautifully written, deeply felt novel about grief, adolescence and family.


The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw
Winner of the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

‘A work of extraordinary subtlety, excitement and intelligence…clever and exquisitely executed fiction.’ – The Hoopla

Paris, 1989. Recently retired police inspector Auguste Jovert receives a letter from a woman who claims to be his daughter. Two days later, a stranger knocks on his door. His name is Tadashi Omura, and he is a former law professor. He tells Jovert stories about his life, and about a man named Katsuo Ikeda, whom he met when they were both children and who later became a successful writer.


The Pause by John Larkin
Winner of the Griffith University Young Adult Book Award

The Pause looks at the devastating impact of teenage suicide. Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for.But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable.



To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson
Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Fiction Award

After abandoning his wife and child many years ago, the Black War veteran Thomas Toosey must return to the city to search for William, his now motherless twelve-year-old son. This is a moving father and son story set amidst the beauty and the violence of the poor and preyed upon of Australia’s colonial past.


The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
Winner of the Gold Inky Award for Young Adult Fiction

Funny, insightful and written with warmth and understanding, The Intern is for everyone who has had and survived the job from hell. This is the debut novel of journalist and copywriter Gabrielle Tozer, who is clearly drawing on her personal experiences of working in-house at magazines like Cosmopolitan, CLEO, Woman’s Day and Bride to Be.



When There’s Nowhere Else to Run by Murray Middleton
Winner of the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

A vivid and compelling collection of stories about people who find their lives unraveling and discover that no matter how many thousands of kilometres they put between themselves and their transgressions, sometimes there’s nowhere else to run.


Drones and Phantoms by Jennifer Maiden
Winners of the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal

Jennifer Maiden is one of the country’s most prolific poets; Drones and Phantoms is her 18th collection. The poems interweave he personal and the political in fascinating way, with conversations between historical and political figures, such as Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, and Queen Victoria and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.


The Strays by Emily Bitto
Winner of the Stella Prize for Women’s Writing

On her first day of school, Lily Struthers meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde artist Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this artist colony, longing to truly belong to this makeshift family.


Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven
Winner of the Dobbie Award for a First Time Published Author

“In a style mystical, sensual and realistic all at once, Ellen van Neerven’s remarkable debut collection of stories is startlingly original. She combines down to earth dialogue, descriptions of country and the dailiness of people’s lives with passages of lyrical intensity, which effortlessly convey both the mystical dimension of country as well as its undertones of violence.” – Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby, on behalf of the judging panel.


The Grapple Annual Number 1

The Grapple Annual No. 1 edited by Duncan Felton
The Small Press Network Most Underrated Book Award

The Grapple Annual is the flagship publication from Grapple Publishing, an independent Canberra-based publisher founded in 2013.  A calendar-based anthology, the annual combines prose, poetry, comics and art with contributors from all over Canberra, across Australia and around the world. Only 365 numbered and dated copies of each Annual are printed (366 in leap years). The general submissions window for The Grapple Annual No. 3 will open in early 2016.


The Eye of The Sheep by Sofie Laguna
Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award

The Miles Franklin Award is presented each year to a novel which “presents Australian life in any of its phases” and is generally accepted as the most prestigious literary award in the country. Laguna’s third book explores complex themes related to domestic violence through the eyes of young Jimmy Flick.
Read an extract





  1. 20 December 2015 / 11:16 pm

    I recently and belatedly read and reviewed The Eye of the Sheep and loved it. It was (in fact) the best book I read in 2015 (even though it was published in 2014!).

  2. 28 December 2015 / 8:39 pm

    A great list – thank you. To my shame I hadn’t realised that either Joan London or Mark Henshaw were Australian!

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