Fremantle Press congratulates Michael Burrows, winner of the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist


Michael Burrows joins fellow debut writers Diana Reid and Ella Baxter as this year’s Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists. As reported in SMH’s Spectrum, the judges felt the three novelists stood out from the many other entrants for their ‘strong narrative voices, memorable characters and sharp writing – they’ll make you laugh, cry and keep thinking long after you’ve turned the final page’.

Michael’s book Where the Line Breaks came to the attention of Fremantle Press when it was shortlisted for the Fogarty Literary Award in 2019. Michael said being named one of the Best Young Australian Novelists, and joining the prestigious ranks of previous winners, was an honour. ‘It gives me no end of delight that readers have connected with and enjoyed my debut novel, Where the Line Breaks. Writing can sometimes be a lonely, isolated process, but with the help of the brilliant team at Fremantle Press, and particularly the editing genius of Georgia Richter, I’ve been lucky enough to share my work with the world’, he said.

Where the Line Breaks is both historical fiction and a literary mystery story and was originally reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald as a ‘lively take on the limitations of scholarship and on the unknowable nature of the past’.

Michael said, ‘While I might not always feel particularly young, being named one of the Best Young Australian Novelists certainly gets the creative juices flowing. On to the next book!’

The prize was established by former SMH literary editor Susan Wyndham to recognise emerging local writing talent. The awards are open to writers aged thirty-five and younger at the time of publication of their nominated books and, thanks to the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, Michael receives a prize of $1,000.

This year’s judges were: Thuy On, a critic and poet; Gretchen Shirm, the 2011 SMH Best Young Australian Novelist; and Melanie Kembrey, the SMH Spectrum editor.

Previous winners of the award include Alice Nelson, Nam Le, Jessie Tu, Alice Bishop, Robbie Arnott, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hannah Kent, Sonya Hartnett, Malcolm Knox, Elliot Perlman, Luke Davies, Craig Silvey, Christos Tsiolkas and Gillian Mears.

Books discussed
Where the Line Breaks

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