Prime Minister Julia Gillard may be embroiled in a political thriller that would tax the creative juices of the most imaginative writer of genre fiction, but she hasn't taken her mind off the fortunes of Australia's literary culture.
On Monday Ms Gillard and Arts Minister Tony Burke revealed that three of the novels shortlisted for Wednesday's Miles Franklin award have been included in the PM's literary awards, which are worth $80,000 tax-free to the winner of each of the six categories – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, Australian history, young-adult fiction and children's fiction. Shortlisted authors receive $5000 each.
Romy Ash (Floundering), Michelle de Kretser (Questions of Travel) and Carrie Tiffany (Mateship with Birds) are on both the Miles and PM's shortlist and are joined by double Booker prize winner Peter Carey (The Chemistry of Tears) and double Miles Franklin winner Christopher Koch (Lost Voices). Tiffany's novel has already won both the inaugural Stella Prize for Australian women's writing and the NSW Premier's Prize for fiction.
Lisa Jacobson's speculative verse novel, The Sunlit Zone, which was short-listed for the Stella, is joined on the poetry list by Eileen Chong (Burning Rice), John Kinsella (Jam Tree Gully), Jennifer Maiden (Liquid Nitrogen), and Peter Rose (Crimson Crop).
Non fiction: Malcolm Knox (Bradman's War), Chris Masters (Uncommon Soldier), Adrian Mitchell (Plein Airs and Graces), George Megalogenis (The Australian Moment), and Barbara Santich (Bold Palates).
History: Frank Bongiorno (The Sex Lives of Australians: A History), Paul Ham (Sandakan), Jenny Hocking (Gough Whitlam), Ross McMullin (Farewell, Dear People), and Nicole Moore (The Censor's Library).
Young adult: Jessica Davidson (Everything Left Unsaid), Sonya Hartnett (The Children of the King), Sue McPherson (Grace Beside Me), Bruce Pascoe (Fog a Dox), and Vikki Wakefield (Friday Brown).
Children's: Libby Gleeson (Red), Jane Godwin and Anna Walker (Today We Have No Plans), Peter Friend and Andrew Joyner (What's the Matter, Aunty May?), and Marianne Musgrove (The Beginner's Guide to Revenge).
The winners will be announced next month.