Foundation for Australian Literary Studies News & Events 2020 Colin Roderick Award Long List Announced

2020 Colin Roderick Award Long List Announced

2020 long list book covers

An eight-month reading marathon taking in 168 books has produced a long-list that reflects the open nature of the award, with judges agreeing that their task had been a tough one.

Maintaining social distance while engaging closely on email and phone, the judges were able to decide on twelve books that together reflect the incredible range of entries.

Biography, history, politics, genre fiction, literary fiction, short stories, poetry, and books that cross these genres, are all featured. No young adult or children’s entries made the cut this year, although several were very close.

There are some well-known names in Australian literature in this year’s Roderick long-list: Inez Baranay, Garry Disher, Catherine Jinks, Chris Womersley, and Tara June Winch. The long-list also features highly-regarded newcomers Miriam Sved and Alice Robinson.

Along with first-time memoirist Angela Wales, and emerging poet Omar Sakr, there are well established academics Judith Brett and Sally Young, while the book Songspirals was written by the Gay’wu Group of Women.

The judges now have a month to come up with the shortlist, to be announced on 27 July, and the winner will be announced in October.


Inez Baranay, Turn Left at Venus.
A wise and grimly humorous novel, in which pseudo-memoir meets sci-fi, rich in allusion to classics like The Left Hand of Darkness.

Judith Brett, From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting.
A lively history full of odd and memorable details, showing that what is precious must be worked for, and should never be taken for granted.

Garry Disher, Peace.
A cracker of a crime novel set in a small town near South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, Peace continues the story of Disher’s Constable Paul Hirschhausen.

Gay’wu Group of Women, Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines.
This bi-lingual book, in Yolgŋu and English, Songspirals rewards the committed reader by offering insight into the complex, powerful place of story in Yolgŋu culture.

Catherine Jinks, Shepherd.
In a fast-paced, action-packed evocation of Australia’s colonial past, Shepherd tells the story of convicts on the run from a murderous colleague.

Alice Robinson, The Glad Shout.
Published before the time of Covid-19, this novel offers a strangely prescient picture of human society, and a single family, struggling with forces they cannot control.

Omar Sakr, The Lost Arabs.
Poems that combine delicacy and precision in language with sometimes brutal sometimes beautiful images of everyday life.

Miriam Sved, A Universe of Sufficient Size.
This novel presents a fascinating family history, shaped by love, mathematics and Jewishness, that combines a contemporary search for truth with sketches of a group of student friends in Budapest in 1938.

Angela Wales, Barefoot in the Bindis.
Packed with detail and vivid images of life before ‘all mod cons’, this memoir of a country childhood tells the story of a family from the city adapting to life in the bush.

Tara June Winch, The Yield.
An ambitious book, the foundations of which include a dictionary of the recovering Wiradjuri language; a memoir; a missionary’s journal and letters; family history and family reminiscence. Brought together, these tell a story that seeks to make sense of disruption and violence.

Chris Womersley, A Lovely & Terrible Thing.
The beauty of this collection of short stories—some fantastical, some vengeful—is their complete unexpectedness: just when you think you know what’s going on, you don’t.

Sally Young, Paper Emperors: The rise of Australia’s newspaper empires.
Combining telling detail with scholarly panorama, Paper Emperors analyses the influence of media in Australian society and politics, showing the connectedness of past to present.

Contact: Marg Naylor, FALS Administration Officer