The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise Fremantle Press poet Nandi Chinna for her latest poetry collection

The Future Keepers by Nandi Chinna is one five poetry collections in the running to win a Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Fremantle Press author Meg McKinlay also made the cut in the children’s literature section. Designed to celebrate exceptional Australian literary talent, 30 books were chosen from 562 entries across six categories. Chinna and McKinlay will each get a share in a $100,000 cash prize pool – $80,000 for a win and $5,000 for being shortlisted.

Chinna said she was extremely happy and excited that her book had been chosen for the shortlist. She said, ‘I’m quietly grateful and pleased that the judges thought my book worthy of this acknowledgement. The Future Keepers invites readers to pay attention to the other species and ecosystems that we share our lives and places with. There is immense solace and understanding to be found in the lives and voices of the diverse species that inhabit our local places alongside us, below, and above us.. There is also a vast amount of grief around in the community at the loss of this diversity due to unfettered land clearing and climate change.’

In their notes, judges Ms Suzanne Leal (chair), Susan Wyndham, Dr Kerryn Goldsworthy, Professor Philip Mead and Dr Lucy Neave said Chinna’s poems explored the relationships between humans and the environment, and humans and animals, as well as between First Nations people and more recent arrivals. ‘The poems conceive of the natural world and generations of First Nations people as stretching back into deep time, and the importance of an awareness of the past in imagining a future.’

In a media release announcing the shortlist, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that now, more than ever, we see the profound contribution of books to our cultural, intellectual and recreational life.

‘Australia’s literary sector entertains us and educates us. Our authors, illustrators, poets and historians are our storytellers, shaping our national consciousness and contributing to a record of our culture,’ the Prime Minister said.

Shortlisted alongside Nandi Chinna were Birth Plan by L. K. Holt (Vagabond Press), Empirical by Lisa Gorton (Giramondo Poets), Heide by π.O. (Giramondo Poets) and The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr (University of Queensland Press).

The winners of the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards will be announced in December 2020.

Meg McKinlay’s Drawn Onward, Ten Tiny Things and Bella and the Wandering House and Nandi Chinna’s The Future Keepers and Swamp Poems: Walking the Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain are available in all good bookstores and online.

For more information on the shortlists, including judging panel comments, visit:

The 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists are:


  • Exploded View, Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing
  • The Death of Jesus, J. M. Coetzee,Text Publishing
  • The Weekend, Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin
  • The Yield, Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton: Penguin Random House
  • Wolfe Island, Lucy Treloar, Picador: Pan Macmillan


  • Hearing Maud: A Journey for a Voice, Jessica White, University of Western Australia Publishing
  • Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, Christina Thompson, William Collins: HarperCollins
  • See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill, Black Inc.
  • Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines, Gay’wu Group of Women, Allen & Unwin
  • The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia, Tim Bonyhady, Text Publishing

Australian history

  • From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting, Judith Brett, Text Publishing
  • Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago, Tiffany Shellam, University of Western Australia Publishing
  • Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform, Marilyn Lake, Harvard University Press
  • Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields, Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies, La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc.
  • The Oarsmen: The Remarkable Story of the Men Who Rowed from the Great War to Peace, Scott Patterson, Hardie Grant Books


  • Birth Plan, L. K. Holt, Vagabond Press
  • Empirical, Lisa Gorton, Giramondo Poets
  • Heide, π.O., Giramondo Poets
  • The Future Keepers, Nandi Chinna, Fremantle Press
  • The Lost Arabs, Omar Sakr, University of Queensland Press

Children’s literature

  • Catch a Falling Star, Meg McKinlay, Walker Books
  • Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back, Dion Beasley and Johanna Bell, Allen & Unwin
  • Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines, Jasmine Seymour, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson, Magabala Books
  • One Careless Night, Christina Booth, Black Dog Books: Walker Books
  • Winter of the White Bear, Martin Ed Chatterton, Dirt Lane Press

Young adult literature

  • How it Feels to Float, Helena Fox, Pan Macmillan
  • The Honeyman and the Hunter, Neil Grant, Allen & Unwin
  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, Wai Chim, Allen & Unwin
  • This Is How We Change the Ending, Vikki Wakefield, Text Publishing
  • When the Ground Is Hard, Malla Nunn, Allen & Unwin

Books discussed
The Future Keepers
Drawn Onward
Bella and the Wandering House
Bella and the Voyaging House

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