Shortlist announced for Australia’s richest biography prize

Thursday 5 August 2021

Compelling biographies of trailblazers and survivors have been shortlisted alongside raw-edged memoirs by debut authors for the 2021 National Biography Award, the richest prize in Australia for biography and life stories.

Senior Judge, Suzanne Falkiner commented: “In this difficult period of confinement it was a privilege to enter the worlds of such a diverse set of writers — almost half the works were from first-time biographers from mainstream publishers which demonstrates a healthy appetite among readers for fresh and innovative life stories from all corners of Australian society.”

The shortlisted works, selected from 101 entries are:

  • The Lotus Eaters by Emily Clements (Hardie Grant Books)
  • One Bright Moon by Andrew Kwong (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Max by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)
  • Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse by Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin)
  • Tell Me Why by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Penny Wong: Passion and Principle by Margaret Simons (Black Inc. Books)

“The strong showing of debut works made for a difficult task of narrowing them down to the most worthy contenders for inclusion in the shortlist, which is why we have requested to mention these further titles as ‘highly commended’,” said Ms Falkiner.

  • The Shelf Life of Zora Cross by Cathy Perkins (Monash University Publishing)
  • Into the Suburbs: A Migrant’s Story by Christopher Raja (University of Queensland Press)
  • Lowitja by Stuart Rintoul (Allen & Unwin)

The National Biography Award is generously supported by the Nelson Meers Foundation and has a total prize pool of $42,000. The overall winner receives $25,000. The $5,000 Michael Crouch AC Award is awarded to the best debut biography or memoir in honour of the late Library benefactor and former Award supporter. In addition, each shortlisted author receives $2,000.

The winner will be announced on 26 August 2021.

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