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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

$200,000 for the best Australian books of 2008

Media release
19 February 2009
PG / 215

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The nation’s richest literary prizes - the 2009 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards - which acknowledge and reward excellence in Australian literature are now open.

Minister for the Arts Peter Garrett said Australian authors, publishers and literary agents are invited to submit fiction and non-fiction works published in 2008 for assessment by the judging panels.

"The judges will recommend fiction and non-fiction shortlists and winners to the Prime Minister with winners both receiving a tax-free prize of $100,000," Mr Garrett said.

"Literature is the great enabler of the imagination. Our yarns, fables and stories are a rich deposit, with reading one of the most relaxing and affordable pastimes."

In 2008 the winners were chosen from close to 200 entries shortlisted to 14 books - seven in each category - for the two prizes. First time author Steven Conte received the prize for fiction with The Zookeeper’s War and Adelaide author and historian Philip Jones won the non-fiction category with Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers.

"I am especially pleased that sales of the shortlisted and winning titles increased considerably after last year’s announcement," Mr Garrett said.

"A key objective of these awards is to support Australia’s authors and as community awareness of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards increases, the prize will become a significant marketing tool for booksellers.

"Arrangements for the 2009 judging panel are underway. I will make an announcement on the panels shortly, once these arrangements are finalised."

To be considered for the Awards, authors must be living Australian citizens and permanent residents. The works must have been first published in English, and first offered for general sale between 1 January and 31 December 2008.

Entries close at 5.00 pm, Friday 20 March 2009. For entry forms and eligibility guidelines: 

Commonwealth of Australia