From an artist community living on a Greek island, to a tale of four kids and their teacher solving a decades-old mystery, the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were a celebration of diversity of Australian creativity this year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher presented the Awards at Parliament House on Wednesday.
The awards were divided into six categories - children's literature, young adult literature, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and Australian history - with a total prize pool of $600,000.
Gail Jones took out the fiction award for her much-lauded novel The Death of Noah Glass, about an art historian whose children are left to deal with his sudden death.
Speaking from Ireland, where she is researching a new novel, Jones said she was honoured to receive the prize.
"It does feel a little unreal - since I received the news at Gatwick airport, amid all the hub-hub and mad rush of a trip from London to Dublin - but I'm deeply appreciative," she said.
But while Noah Glass had received various accolades since it was published last year, including being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, she said it was easier, as a writer, to stay detached from the prize world.
"It is certainly easier to work without imagining a public reception," she said.
"Literary value is a difficult matter to determine, and often I'm a little perplexed by prize lists."
Historians Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell won the non-fiction prize for Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964, an account of the post-war international artist community that formed on the Greek island of Hydra.
Meredith Lake's book The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, won the Australian history prize, and Judith Beveridge's latest volume, Sun Music: New and Selected Poems took out the poetry prize.
Children's literature stalwart Emily Rodda won the children's literature prize for His Name was Walter, while Michael Gerard Bauer's The Things that Will Not Stand won the young adult literature prize.
Mr Morrison said the awards recognised "the significant contribution literature, history and poetry make towards shaping our Australian identity".
"We are fortunate to have such remarkable authors, poets, illustrators, creators and historians committed to bringing Australian stories to life," he said.
Mr Fletcher said the awards had recognised "individual excellence in Australian literature for more than a decade".
"Literature is vital in a civilised society," he said.
"There is something very special about a book as the fruit of sustained and disciplined artistic and intellectual effort."
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