Previous winners

THE JAGULAR - Sarah Holland-Batt[University of Queensland Press]

Holland-Batt’s poetry collection came out on top from a shortlist of seven and a longlist of 15 books that seeks to reward the best Australian book from any genre.

The Roderick has the broadest scope of any single Australian literary prize, and is one of the longest-running. The judges praised Holland-Batt for her sustained intensity of imagery in this powerfully-coherent collection of poems written around the dying and the death of the poet’s father.

“It’s rare for a volume of poetry to be so coherent: it functions as a complete whole, a volume not just a collection,” they said.

The Jaguar is astonishing for its use of rhetorical, poetic, and metaphoric language to convey strong, sometimes searing, and sometimes intimate emotions. Holland-Batt almost overwhelms us as she uses every poetic tool at her disposal to come to terms with her grief.”

The Jaguar has already been recognised by The Australian Book of the Year Award, the Stella Prize, and the Queensland Premier's Award for a Work of State Significance.

View the 2023 short list.

wild abandon cover. WILD ABANDON - Emily Bitto [Allen & Unwin Book Publishers]

An extremely well-crafted account of a young Australian man's ‘escape’ to New York and then into US heartlands after the breakdown of his first serious relationship.

Echoing some great American literary landmarks, sometimes lyrical, a coming of age and into self-knowledge story mapped through the observation of the tensions and mysteries of the relationships of others set against richly symbolic and allusive account of the decline of civilisations.

Check out the 2022 short & long lists

infinite splendours cover. INFINITE SPLENDOURS - Sophie Laguna [Allen  & Unwin Book Publishers]

The enthralling coming-of-age story of a boy living in rural Victoria won the 2021 Colin Roderick Literary Award.

With heartbreaking intensity, Infinite Splendours tells the story of Laurie Loman, a bright, artistic 10-year-old boy living in rural Victoria as he experiences horrific betrayal, and in the aftermath tries to recover his life and sense of identity.

As Laurie grows older, he matures only in limited ways and his distance and difference from the world become ever greater. He finds purpose and pleasure mainly in the natural world and his paintings of it. But this work as an artist, like all the most important experiences of his life, is not really part of his public identity. Instead, he is seen as threateningly different.

While not without humour, the novel is concerned with some of the most pressing issues in Australian society, as well as the role of art and artists in responding to these crises.

A capacious, brooding and brilliant book, Infinite Splendours left a deep impression on the judges who were unanimous in their decision.

Check out the 2021 short & long lists

paper emperors cover. PAPER EMPERORS: The Rise of Australia's Newspaper Empires - Sally Young

The exposé of the Australian newspaper industry, Paper Emperorswon the 2020 Colin Roderick Literary Award. 

Chair of the judging panel Dr Leigh Dale said the non-fiction book, which is about the history of Australia’s newspaper industry, is particularly relevant this year as the industry struggles with online business models and social media.

“It is fascinating to read about its beginnings and the influence it had on the nation, its politics, and its social fabric,” she said. “The opening words ‘Newspapers have found it very difficult to tell the truth about themselves’ gives an indication of what is to come.”

Check out the 2020 short & long lists


Robert's 'The True Colour of the Sea' was announced in October 2019 as the 2019 Colin Roderick Award winner at the Foundation's annual award dinner event.

“The True Colour of the Sea is beautiful writing from one of the country’s most respected writers. It encompasses Australian experiences past and present, portrayed in moments that are sad, serious, and poignant,” said Dr Leigh Dale, Chair of the Judging Panel.

Check out the 2019 short & long lists.


Jock's 'On the Java Ridge' was announced as the 2018 Colin Roderick Award winner in October 2018 at the Foundation's annual award dinner event.

The writing leaves you breathless and there are passages that are brilliant. Serong brings together thriller, political critique, and adventure story in a way that might be reminiscent of James Bond, were it not that governments turn out to be the evilest of all.

Check out the 2018 short & long lists.

    Josephine Wilson
EXTINCTIONS - Josephine Wilson

Josephine's novel 'Extinctions' was announced as the 2017 Colin Roderick Award winner on 30th October 2017 at the Foundation's annual award dinner event.

Extinctions is a beautifully written novel, characterised by total precision, as well as harmony, in word and thought. There are moments of profound and incisive emotional insight; these are presented in a style that avoids conscious 'literariness' in favour of a distinctive mix of humour, precision, and poetry.

Check out the 2017 short list.

    Gail Jones

Gail Jones's novel 'A Guide to Berlin' was announced as the 2016 Colin Roderick Award winner at the Foundation's annual award dinner event.

Jones’s sentences are crystalline like the snow she writes about so beautifully and poignantly. The narrative took the reader where the story inevitably had to go: on a misadventure.  It was a poignant story of lost and dysfunctional postmodern wanderers in search of a tribe, desperate globetrotting people drawn together in their mutual pursuit of some kind of magic in a broken, unhallowed world and ultimately finding only themselves, a lack of moral courage, and bumbling into more brokenness, more hurt, and more damage.

Check out the 2016 short list.

See the full list of Colin Roderick Award winners from the very beginning of the Foundation in 1967.