Six share in PM's $600,000 literary prize
Author Gail Jones has sent a plea for greater arts funding as she took out the top fiction prize in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards for her novel, The Death of Noah Glass.
Scott Morrison presented the prize at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday.
Jones was absent, working in Europe, but she sent the message via her brother Peter.
"Beyond the glamour of the individual prize, our literary culture is both precious and incalculable," her speech said.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to plead for enhanced funding ... in the arts and the humanities which are crucial for our country's future promise."
The prime minister's prize is one of the most lucrative in the country, with awards presented in six categories - children's literature, young adult literature, fiction, poetry, non-fiction and Australian history - having a total prize pool of $600,000.
Mr Morrison said he knew from the life of his great-great-aunt, poet Mary Gilmore, that a literary life was not usually a profitable one.
But it was important nonetheless.
"You are the nation's storytellers and in that job, there is not just the responsibility you have to your art, but there is a leadership role that you play in what you do," he told the awards ceremony.
"It doesn't matter whether those stories are works of fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry ... children's books, young adult books; all of these are so instructive in our lives."
He said three books that never left his consciousness were David Malouf's The Great World, Peter Carey's Illywhacker and Kate Grenville's The Secret River.
The other winners were: Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964, Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell (non-fiction); The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, Meredith Lake (Australian history); Sun Music: New and Selected Poems, Judith Beveridge, (poetry); His Name Was Walter, Emily Rodda (children's) and The Things That Will Not Stand, Michael Gerard Bauer (young adult).
Mr Morrison said Lake's book was on his Christmas reading list.
© AAP 2019