Melbourne author Christos Tsiolkas continued his winning streak last night, taking out the prestigious $30,000 Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction for his book The Slap in the 25th Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. He was not there to receive it having broken his leg.

Premier John Brumby announced Tsiolkas among 11 writers who will share in $195,000 in prizes in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, which recognise the abundant talent of Victorian and Australian writers.

Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island won the non-fiction category, the $30,000 Nettie Palmer Prize.

“For 25 years the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards have celebrated our passion for literature and writing in all its forms,” Mr Brumby said.

“By recognising a diversity of forms including fiction, non-fiction, journalism, poetry and musical theatre, these awards are one of Australia’s most diverse literary prize programs and this year, the awards attracted a record 705 entires.”

Mr Brumby said writers hold a mirror to life, to legends, to history and future directions.

Tom Griffith’s essay We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough reflects on the Victorian Bushfires while Luke Davies’ The Penalty is Death: Inside Bali’s Kerobokan Prison follows life on death row for two of the ‘Bali 9’. These works received awards in the Essay and Journalism categories, with both writers also receiving $15,000 in prize money.

The first award of the night, the Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer was presented by Arts Minister Lynne Kosky.

“Now in its sixth year, this very special prize supports Victoria’s new authors. In addition to $15,000 in prize money, this award includes 20 hours of invaluable professional assistance by the Victorian Writers’ Centre to develop the manuscript and achieve publication,” Ms Kosky said.

Amy Espeseth received the 2009 award for Sufficient Grace, the story of two young girls growing up in rural Wisconsin.

Other winners included Sue Saliba, awarded the Prize for Young Adult Fiction; Robert Adamson, awarded the Prize for Poetry and Lally Katz who was awarded the Louis Esson Prize for Drama.

The Awards were presented at a celebratory dinner at Federation Square featuring Shane Warne The Musical playwright and actor Eddie Perfect as MC.

Perfect was also the winner of the Prize for Best Music Theatre Script. A keynote address was delivered by celebrated Melbourne author, and the 2007 winner of the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, Alexis Wright.

Mr Brumby congratulated the State Library of Victoria who have administered the awards for the past 12 years.

“In 2010 the administration of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards will pass to the newly created Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, joining a range of initiatives and programs to foster and support writing in Victoria,” Mr Brumby said.


The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction – $30,000
The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas, Allen & Unwin

The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction – $30,000
The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island, Chloe Hooper, Hamish Hamilton

The CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry – $15,000
The Golden Bird, Robert Adamson, Black Inc

The Louis Esson Prize for Drama – $15,000
Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd, Lally Katz, Malthouse Theatre

The Prize for Young Adult Fiction – $15,000
Something in the World Called Love, Sue Saliba, Penguin

The Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate – $15,000
We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough, Tom Griffiths, Inside Story

The Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Prize for Writing about Italians in Australia – $15,000
Death in the Mountains, Lisa Clifford, Macmillan

The John Curtin Prize for Journalism – $15,000
The Penalty is Death: Inside Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, Luke Davies, The Monthly

The Prize for Best Music Theatre Script – $15,000
Shane Warne The Musical, Eddie Perfect, Token Events

The Prize for Science Writing – $15,000
The Rise of Animals: Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia, Patricia Vickers-Rich, The Johns Hopkins University Press

The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer – $15,000
Sufficient Grace, Amy Espeseth