Prime Ministers Literary Award 2015

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The Prime Minister's Literary Awards, 2015 were announced at an event in Sydney on Monday night. These awards recognise the contribution of Australia's authors to the richness of Australian cultural life by sharing stories that capture the complexity of contemporary life and offer insightful reflection on the past.

The winners of selected categories and the shortlists:

Fiction
Winner
The Golden Age, Joan London
It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children's Polio Convalescent Home in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond. The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs: love and desire, music, death, and poetry. It is a place where children must learn they're alone, even within their families.

Subtle, moving and remarkably lovely, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection, from one of Australia's finest and most-loved novelists.
Shortlisted
Amnesia by Peter Carey
In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower
Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett
To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson

Young adult fiction
Winner
The Protected by Claire Zorn
I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.

Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.
Shortlisted
Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth
The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Tigers on the Beach by Doug MacLeod
The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Children's fiction
 Winner
One Minute's Silence by David Metzenthen and illustrated by Michael Camilleri
n one minute of silence you can imagine sprinting up the beach in Gallipoli in 1915 with the fierce fighting Diggers, but can you imagine standing beside the brave battling Turks as they defended their homeland from the cliffs above.

In the silence that follows a war long gone, you can see what the soldiers saw, you can feel what the soldiers felt. And if you try, you might be able to imagine the enemy, and see that he is not so different from you.

In One Minute's Silence, you are the story, and the story is yours - to imagine, remember and honour the brothers in arms on both sides of the conflict, heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives.

A moving and powerful reflection on the meaning of Remembrance Day.
Shortlisted
Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks
My Dad is a Bear by Nicola Connelly and illustrated by Annie White
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Withering‐by‐Sea by Judith Rossell

Prize for Australian History
Joint winners
Charles Bean by Ross Coulthart
A long overdue new biography of this iconic Australian war correspondent, CEW Bean.
Charles Bean's wartime reports and photographs mythologised the Australian soldier and helped spawn the notion that the Anzacs achieved something nation-defining on the shores of Gallipoli and the battlefields of western Europe. In his quest to get the truth, Bean often faced death beside the Diggers in the trenches of Gallipoli and the Western Front - and saw more combat than many. But did Bean tell Australia the whole story of what he knew? In this fresh new biography Ross Coulthart explores the man behind the legend.

The Spy Catchers – The Official History of ASIO Vol 1 by David Horner
For the first time, ASIO has opened its archives to an independent historian. With unfettered access to the records, David Horner tells the real story of Australia's domestic intelligence organisation, from shaky beginnings to the expulsion of Ivan Skripov in 1963.

From the start, ASIO's mission was to catch spies. In the late 1940s, the top secret Venona program revealed details of a Soviet spy ring in Australia, supported by leading Australian communists. David Horner outlines the tactics ASIO used in counterespionage, from embassy bugging to surveillance of local suspects. His research sheds new light on the Petrov Affair, and details incidents and activities that have never been revealed before.

This authoritative and ground-breaking account overturns many myths about ASIO, and offers new insights into broader Australian politics and society in the fraught years of the Cold War.
Shortlisted
The Europeans in Australia – Volume Three: Nation by Alan Atkinson
Descent into Hell by Peter Brune
Menzies at War by Anne Henderson

Non‐fiction
Joint winners:
John Olsen: An Artist's Life by Darleen Bungey
This landmark biography by Darleen Bungey, the author of the celebrated biography of Arthur Boyd, graphically depicts the forces that drove John Olsen to become one of the country's greatest artists. An exhilarating book, both trenchant and tender, it strips away the veneer of showmanship and fame to show the substance of a painter driven by a need to depict his country's landscape as Australians had never seen it before.

Given access to his uncensored diaries and drawing on years of extensive interviews with both Olsen and those who have known him best, she explores his passionate life and follows his navigation though the friendships, rivalries and politics of the Australian art world. How did a shy, stuttering boy from Newcastle, neglected by his alcoholic father, come to paint the great mural Salute to Five Bells at the Sydney Opera House?

Wild Bleak Bohemia: Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall by Michael Wilding
Meticulously using contemporary newspaper reports, court records, published memoirs, private letters and diaries, Michael Wilding tells the story of three troubled geniuses of Australian writing and their world of poetry and poverty, alcohol and opiates, horse-racing and theatre, journalism and publishing. Gordon shot himself, unable to pay the printer of his poems; Kendall ended up in a mental hospital after forging a cheque, and Clarke died bankrupt for a second time.
Shortlisted
Private Bill by Barrie Cassidy
This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trail by Helen Garner
Encountering the Pacific: In the Age of Enlightenment by John Gascoigne

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