The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award

2021 Shortlist 

Congratulations to the finalists! 

Friends & Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford (Text Publishing)  

Judges' comments 

A tale of coexistence, kinship, and grief. Bedford’s careful vignettes strike a skilled balance of refinement and depth. Exploring millennial life in a Redfern share house, Friends & Dark Shapes is a remarkable ethnographic fiction of what it means to be young, to live, and to have lost in Australia.

Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim (Transit Lounge) 

Judges' comments 

A bold, wise, deeply feminist novel about a daughter’s stymied life and her quest to destroy her brother. Walking a razor’s edge between savagery and empathy, gravity and wit, this intellectual thriller keeps you biting your nails – and questioning your thoughts about art and families – to the final, risky page.

The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey (Text Publishing)  

Judges' comments 

The haunting story of a mother’s journey to accept the crimes of her son, this novel unspools its pleasures with expert restraint. The result is a sublime meditation on the dangers and lures of solitude, the bargains of creation and love – a masterly novel with a tone like no other.

The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy (Penguin Random House) 

Judges' comments 

A stunning combination of literary fiction, environmental activism and gripping thriller, featuring a woman escaping her past amidst a clarion call for the earth decimated by climate change. It’s a story of survival, belonging, compassion and hope told through compelling writing and engaging characters. A haunting, tender and suspenseful page-turner.

Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson (Hachette)  

Judges' comments 

A breathtaking debut novel about Aboriginal sovereignty, survival, strength, and connection. We follow the Billymil family and their ancestral guides as tensions in the local town of Darnmoor threaten their way of life. Written with lyrical, evocative beauty and tremendous heart. Destined to be a classic.