Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA), in partnership with Australia’s leading essential building and infrastructure services provider ARA Group, is excited to announce the Longlists for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize.
This year’s Longlists traverse a vast tapestry of settings and eras, delving into tales of love against prejudice, the resilience in the face of societal shifts, and the enduring spirit of individuals amidst challenges. From sun-soaked Australian landscapes to the complexities of medieval England and the turmoil of wartime Europe, the stories underscore the potency of historical fiction to illuminate the intricacies of human nature, evoke untold tales, and spotlight the shared tribulations and triumphs echoing through time.
- Limberlost – Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing)
- The Fire and the Rose – Robyn Cadwallader (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)
- Nimblefoot – Robert Drewe (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House)
- The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies – Alison Goodman (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)
- Salonika Burning – Gail Jones (Text Publishing)
- The Sun Walks Down – Fiona McFarlane (Allen & Unwin)
- Iris – Fiona Kelly McGregor (Pan Macmillan Australia)
- The Settlement – Jock Serong (Text Publishing)
- The Bookbinder of Jericho – Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
- The Great Gallipoli Escape – Jackie French (HarperCollins Publishers)
- Running with Ivan – Suzanne Leal (HarperCollins Publishers)
- The Killing Code – Ellie Marnie (Allen & Unwin)
- The Bookseller’s Apprentice – Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press)
- Waiting for the Storks – Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
- The Upwelling – Lystra Rose (Hatchette Australia)
- The Mud Puddlers – Pamela Rushby (Walker Books)
- Iris and Me – Philippa Werry (Ahoy! An Imprint of The Cuba Press)
- Tilda – Sue Whiting (Walker Books)
About the Prize
The ARA Historical Novel Prize is worth a total of $100,000 in prize monies. The Prize will award $50,000 to the Adult category winner, with an additional $5,000 to be awarded to each of the remaining two shortlisted authors. In the Children and Young Adult (CYA) category, the winner will receive $30,000, while the two shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 each.
The 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize Shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 27 September 2023. Winners will be announced on 19 October 2023.
Chair and Program Director of the Historical Novel Society Australasia, Elisabeth Storrs, said, “Drawing from an impressive range of eras and settings, the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize Longlists demonstrate the true depth of talent of historical fiction authors. The 18 longlisted novels transport us from sun-drenched Australian valleys to medieval England’s charged atmospheres, from the fervour of wartime Europe to the gritty Underworld of 1930s Sydney.”
“Drawing from an impressive range of eras and settings, this year’s ARA Historical Novel Prize longlists transports us from sun-drenched Australian valleys to medieval England’s charged atmospheres, from the fervour of wartime Europe to the challenges faced in 1930s Sydney.”
“These narratives unravel tales of love and sacrifice, confront issues of prejudice and displacement, and commend the resilience of individuals against the backdrop of societal change and conflict. Above all, they are a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity and the power of stories to bridge time and place, highlighting the shared struggles, aspirations and triumphs that resonate across generations,” said Storrs.
The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. The ARA Group, and its Founder, Executive Chair and CEO, Edward Federman, are committed to supporting the arts and literature.
ARA Group Founder, Executive Chair and CEO — and patron of the arts — Edward Federman said, “I’m thrilled to recognise the talented authors longlisted for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize. The Prize continues to underscore the invaluable role of the arts, uplifting the enduring importance and influence of the historical fiction genre, which has gone unrecognised for too long.”
“Our vision for the ARA Historical Novel Prize is twofold: to notably reward the endeavours of this year’s outstanding authors and to spotlight the rich tapestry of historical fiction narratives, honouring entrants from both Australia and New Zealand.”
THE JUDGING PANELS
The 2023 judging panel for the Adult category included Dr Robert Gott (Chair), Dr Renée Otmar and Lucy Treloar.
According to Dr Robert Gott, “There were 103 entries in the Adult category of this year’s ARA Historical Novel Prize. This speaks to the appetite of both writers and readers to explore ideas through historical fiction. The longlist is indicative of the depth and breadth of the best of these works. The longlisted authors exercise wit, wisdom and insight, exploring our species as we demonstrate the best and worst of ourselves, in periods ranging from the thirteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.”
“Each of the longlisted books stayed with the judges long after they’d been read. The strength of each of them lies in their prose, whether it be lyrical or devastatingly brutal, or both at once. These books represent the very best in historical fiction writing. They are radically different, one from another, which is proof enough of the riches to be found in this genre. Each of them is a work of outstanding quality.”
Due to an actual or perceived conflict of interest Dr Robert Gott recused himself from discussions relating to the inclusion of a particular book on the longlist. He has now withdrawn from determining the shortlist and winner.
The 2023 judging panel for the CYA category included Christopher Cheng (Chair), Dr Craig Cormick and Lauren Keenan.
According to Christopher Cheng, “The judges were so very pleased with the variety of themes, and the creative and courageous writing approaches (including verse) in the nine long listed titles from Australia and New Zealand in this year’s Children’s and Young Adult Novel Award Category. These titles exposed wars (in China, the Lebensborn Program, Gallipoli and Theresienstadt), suffragettes, female code breakers, an orphanage, evacuees, and bookstores. Some of these titles revealed uncommon and uncomfortable slices of history.”
“Time slip, often cumbersomely portrayed, was cleverly approached where required and with integrity. A common theme of friendship is running through many of the titles and it was pleasing to read titles written in verse or through multiple voices.”
“Extensive research was demonstrated, with complex and in-depth factual notes added to the title, which was then cleverly written into the storylines.”
“These are powerful and engaging historical titles that young readers will want to devour.”
About the ARA Group
The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand. Through its workplace giving program—The ARA Endowment Fund—the company plays a proud and positive role in the community.
The ARA Endowment Fund currently donates 100 per cent of the interest earned annually to The Go Foundation, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and The David Lynch Foundation. ARA Group has also sponsored the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017, is Principal Partner of Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Crown Sponsor of the Taronga Zoo and Significant Partner of the Story Factory.
For further information, visit: https://aragroup.com.au/