The 2024 Literary Awards winners have been announced: Here are the must-read books by local authors

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The 2024 Literary Awards winners have been announced: Here are the must-read books by local authors

best books 2024
Words by Staff Writer

Last night, the 2024 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards distributed more than $292,000 to nine of Australia’s best and brightest literary talent.

Poet Grace Yee took home the prestigious $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature for her work, the richest literary prize in the country, for her debut poetry collection Chinese Fish. She was also awarded the $25,000 Award for Poetry for the same work.

Exploring exclusionary immigration policies in Aotearoa New Zealand, Chinese Fish is a stunning debut, which the judges praised for the way it “intelligently…braids its modes and forms, its feminist vision, and its literary and conceptual sophistication”.

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The grand Victorian Prize For Literature had not been awarded to a work of poetry for a decade.

For the first time since 1995, the 2024 Awards include a new children’s literature category recognising high-calibre works for readers up to age 12. Brisbane-based author and illustrator Remy Lai took home the Prize for Children’s Literature for the graphic novel Ghost Book.

Other winners of the evening include Melissa Lucashenko who took home the Prize for Fiction for her searing novel Edenglassie, Ellen van Neerven who won the Prize for Non-Fiction for her book Personal Score: Sport, culture, identity and Daniel Browning who was awarded the Prize for Indigenous Writing for Close to the Subject: Selected Works.

“Literature and storytelling are more than words on a page – poems, books and plays have the power to open our minds, show us different perspectives, and spark our imaginations,” said The Premier of Victoria, The Hon Jacinta Allan MP.

“Through this program we celebrate the extraordinary contribution writers make to Australia’s creative and cultural life and to those who are touched by their words.”

Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Winners 2024

Children’s Literature

  • Ghost Book by Remy Lai (Allen & Unwin)
  • It’s the Sound of The Thing: 100 new poems for young people by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing)
  • Who’s Afraid of the Light? by Anna McGregor (Scribble)


  • Jacky by Declan Furber Gillick (Currency Press in association with Melbourne Theatre Company)
  • Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas and Dan Giovannoni (originally commissioned by Malthouse Theatre)
  • The Jungle and the Sea by S. Shakthidharan and Eamon Flack (Currency Press in association with Belvoir St Theatre)


  • But the Girl by Jessica Zhan Mei Yu (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Edenglassie by Melissa Lucashenko (University of Queensland Press)
  • Only Sound Remains by Hossein Asgari (Puncher & Wattmann)
  • Serengotti by Eugen Bacon (Transit Lounge)
  • Stone Yard Devotional by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
  • Wall by Jen Craig (Puncher & Wattmann)

Indigenous Writing

  • Close to the Subject by Daniel Browning (Magabala Books)
  • Firelight by John Morrissey (Text Publishing)
  • Personal Score: Sport, culture, identity by Ellen van Neerven (University of Queensland Press)

Non Fiction

  • Cruel Care: A History of Children at Our Borders by Jordana Silverstein (Monash University Publishing)
  • Fat Girl Dancing by Kris Kneen (Text Publishing)
  • Flawed Hero: Truth, lies and war crimes by Chris Masters (Allen & Unwin)
  • Killing for Country by David Marr (Black Inc.)
  • Personal Score: Sport, culture, identity by Ellen van Neerven (University of Queensland Press)
  • The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel exports the technology of occupation around the world by Antony Loewenstein (Scribe Publications)


  • Chinese Fish by Grace Yee (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Kangaroo Paw by Claire Miranda Roberts (Vagabond Press)
  • the body country by Susie Anderson (Hachette Australia)

Unpublished Manuscript

  • Garbage by Hayley Elliott-Ryan
  • Laughing River by N. J. Madden
  • Panajachel by Rachel Morton

Writing for Young Adults

  • A Hunger of Thorns by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox (Pan Australia)
  • We Could Be Something by Will Kostakis (Allen & Unwin)

Highly Commended Works 2024

Children’s Literature

  • Australia: Country of Colour by Jess Racklyeft (Affirm Press)
  • The Goodbye Year by Emily Gale (Text Publishing)


  • Nosferatu by Keziah Warner (originally commissioned by Malthouse Theatre and first published by Currency Press)
  • Telethon Kid by Alistair Baldwin (originally commissioned by Malthouse Theatre)
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words by Verity Laughton (State Theatre Company South Australia)


  • Burn by Melanie Saward (Affirm Press)
  • Paradise Estate by Max Easton (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Southern Aurora by Mark Brandi (Hachette Australia)

Indigenous Writing

  • Dirrarn by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler (Magabala Books)
  • Etta and the Shadow Taboo by JM Field and Jeremy Worrall (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing)

Writing for Young Adults

  • We Didn’t Think It Through by Gary Lonesborough (Allen & Unwin)

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Chosen from 807 submissions, the winning works span eight award categories comprising fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, Indigenous writing, writing for young adults, children’s literature and unpublished manuscripts.

Shortlisted authors included established voices such as poet and writer Maxine Beneba Clarke, Miles Franklin Award-winning author Melissa Lucashenko and Stella Prize-winning novelist Charlotte Wood, alongside emerging storytellers such as Jessica Zhan Mei Yu, Hossein Asgari and Eugen Bacon.

Award contenders took inspiration from sources including Chinese mythological ghost tales, the Greek legend of Antigone, Vyasa’s epic poem the Mahābhāratha, and the Sri Lankan civil war. Other works explore Australia’s refugee detention policies, the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case, and a creative non-fiction work about queerness and sport.

“I congratulate all winners, shortlisted and highly commended authors of the 2024 Awards and encourage all interested readers to explore these remarkable works,” said Erin Vincent, CEO of The Wheeler Centre.

“The winning works of the 2024 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards are exceptional and reflect the breadth of talent in Australian literature right now. Their stories help shape important conversations and offer us insight into who we are.”

To explore all winners, shortlisted entrants and highly commended works, visit