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News  •  15 June 2022


Penguin Literary Prize 2022 Winner Announced

And the winner is . . . Annette Higgs!

Penguin Random House is delighted to announce the 2022 Penguin Literary Prize winner: On a Bright Hillside in Paradise by Annette Higgs.

‘Winning the Penguin Literary Prize is such an honour,’ says Annette. ‘I’m so thrilled – my feet haven’t yet touched the ground. I spent years writing the novel, sinking so much of myself into it, and wondering all the time if anyone would ever read it. To have this story launched into the world, and with such recognition, is the culmination of all my dreams for it.’

Penguin Random House (PRH) launched the prize in 2018 as a way to find, nurture, and develop new Australian authors of literary fiction. 2022 marks the fifth year of the competition, with past winners including Hitch by Kathryn Hind, The Spill by Imbi Neeme, The Rabbits by Sophie Overett, and Denizen by James McKenzie Watson.

This year's winner, Annette, is joining this list of past winners in an exciting and exclusive club, but the prize is more than just recognition. In addition to a $20,000 award, she will also have her book published by Penguin Random House Australia in 2023.

‘I can’t wait to work with PRH to introduce my characters to readers,’ Annette affirms. ‘I feel as if I’ve been channelling their voices onto the page and at last, they’ll be able to join a wider conversation with readers. Heartfelt thanks to the judges for reading and selecting my novel and congratulations to all the shortlistees.’

With an impressive list of shortlisted titles this year, it was by no means an easy decision for judges to select just one winner. Representing both PRH and the Australian book industry at large, the judging panel included Justin Ractliffe and Meredith Curnow from PRH Australia; Kate Mayor, National Category Manager (Fiction & Travel) from Dymocks in Sydney; Alexander Okenyo, Owner of Black Swan Bookshop in New Norfolk Tasmania; and Genevieve Kruyssen, winner of the ABA Young Bookseller of the Year and Events Manager/Bookseller at Where the Wild Things Are bookshop.

‘There were six very strong shortlisted titles,’ says Ractliffe. ‘In the end, though, On a Bright Hillside in Paradise triumphed because of its distinctive voice, innovative structure, lucid prose and crystal-clear evocation of a time, place and lived experience so close to ours and yet so far away. It tackles big questions of faith and family but is always grounded in the dreams and strivings of its beautifully drawn characters. Higgs takes lives that history might have judged as small and imbues them with immense dignity and complex and compelling inner lives. It’s a brilliant winner and I congratulate Annette on her achievement and thank the judges for their insight and avid engagement with the process.’

Another judge, Okenyo, agrees: ‘Higgs draws her characters with clarity and truth, and pitches the narrative forward with a quiet but deep rhythm belonging to the time and landscape she describes. What we want for them is what we want for ourselves, to find a place in our family, our community and our time.’

As the 2022 Penguin Literary Prize draws to a close, this is only the beginning of this novel's story. While we wait in anticipation for the publication of On a Bright Hillside in Paradise, the cycle of the Penguin Literary Prize will continue.

The next round of submissions will open later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for future announcements and updates.

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