Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Winners Announced

The year’s best literary works have been celebrated at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, with Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison winning the major award.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley tonight named Boochani the winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature from a shortlist of 28 exceptional works published in Australia last year.

In addition to the overall prize, No Friend But the Mountains also took out the Prize for Non-Fiction.

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish Iranian writer, poet, journalist and filmmaker who has been held on Manus Island since 2013.

His award was accepted by the book’s translator Omid Tofighian, who worked with Boochani over five years to bring the stories to life.

In other categories, Kendall Feaver’s play about mental health, The Almighty Sometimes, took out the Prize for Drama; Elise Valmorbida’s sixth novel, The Madonna of the Mountains, won the Prize for Fiction and Kate Lilley claimed the Prize for Poetry for Tilt.

The Prize for Writing for Young Adults went to siblings Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina for the thrilling ghost story Catching Teller Crow, and Kim Scott, who received the first Victorian Prize for Literature in 2011, won this year’s Prize for Indigenous Writing for Taboo, a story of survival and renewal set in rural Western Australia.

The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript went to Victoria Hannan for Kokomo, which judges described as ‘a disarmingly profound novel about the violence and the softness of navigating the world as a young woman’. This award has launched the careers of writers such as Jane Harper, Graeme Simsion, Maxine Beneba Clarke.

Over 1000 people voted for the People’s Choice Award, and this year’s winner was Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee.

Established in 1985, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards celebrate the best in contemporary writing, presented by the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley

“Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, whose unique works move us and open us up to new perspectives and human experiences.”

“The Premier’s Literary Awards are in their 34th year, and we’re so proud to support the prize that has launched and fostered the careers of so many of our best writers.”

Winners of the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards


Victorian Prize for Literature

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (Picador Australia)


Prize for Fiction

The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida (Faber & Faber)


Prize for Non-Fiction

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (Picador Australia)


Prize for Drama

The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver (Currency Press, in association with Griffin Theatre Company)


Prize for Poetry

Tilt by Kate Lilley (Vagabond Press)


Prize for Writing for Young Adults

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Allen & Unwin)


Prize for Indigenous Writing

Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador Australia)


Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan


People’s Choice Award

Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee