2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize – Winners Announced


Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA), in partnership with Australia’s leading essential building and infrastructure services provider ARA Group, is excited to announce the winners of the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize.

The winner of the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize – Adult Category is The Burning Island, by Jock Serong (Text Publishing).

The winner of the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize – Children and Young Adult (CYA) Category is We are Wolves, by Katrina Nannestad (HarperCollins Australia).

This year’s winners make the past come alive in an astonishing way. Their luminous prose conjures worlds that intertwine history with imagination to explore themes of survival, identity, desire and power. Both novels embody storytelling at its very best.

In just its second year of operation, the ARA Historical Novel Prize is worth a total of $100,000 in prize monies. The Prize will award $50,000 to the Adult category winner, with an additional $5,000 to be awarded to each of the remaining two shortlisted authors. In the Children and Young Adult (CYA) category, the winner will receive $30,000, while the two shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 each.

Chair and Program Director of the Historical Novel Society Australasia, Elisabeth Storrs, said, “Selected from over 130 entries, the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize winners demonstrate the power of the historical fiction genre to explore what lies hidden and unspoken in society today, illuminated by the sometimes shadowy, yet revealing, paths to our past.”

“The winning novels demonstrate the irresistible prose, unforgettable characters, meticulous research, and epic storytelling for which historical fiction is known. The ARA Historical Novel Prize is a true celebration of the genre, and a real opportunity to foster the genre on a grander scale.”

Elisabeth Storrs – Chair and Program Director

The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. The ARA Group, and its Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director Edward Federman, are committed to supporting the arts and literature.

ARA Group Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director — and patron of the arts — Edward Federman said, “I congratulate Jock Serong and Katrina Nannestad on winning the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize. It has been a pleasure to be involved in making a long-lasting contribution to the arts, particularly to the historical fiction genre that has not always received the attention it rightly deserves.”

“We’re hopeful the new CYA category and additional funding for the ARA Historical Novel Prize will not only make a considerable difference to the lives of the winning authors, but also shine a light on the historical fiction genre and the work of all entrants across Australia and New Zealand.”

Edward Federman

The 2021 judging panel for the Adult category included Nicole Alexander (Chair), Carmel Bird and Roanna Gonsalves. The 2021 judging panel for the CYA category included Paul McDonald (Chair), Thuy On and Catherine Mayo.

For more information about the awards and to see last year’s winners, please visit the HNSA website.



About the ARA Historical Novel Prize

The ARA Historical Novel Prize gives Australian and New Zealand historical novelists the chance to be recognised in a class of their own, with the most significant prize purse for any genre-based prize in Australasia. Historical fiction is defined as a novel in which the majority of the narrative takes place at least 50 years before publication. A range of sub-genres are eligible, including historical mystery, historical romance, alternate history, historical fantasy, multi-time, time-slip, and parallel narrative novels. The judging criteria include depth of research, widespread reader appeal, with excellence in writing as the deciding factor. 

About the ARA Group

The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand. Through its workplace giving program—The ARA Endowment Fund—the company plays a proud and positive role in the community.

The ARA Endowment Fund currently donates 100 per cent of the interest earned annually to The Go Foundation, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and The David Lynch Foundation. ARA Group has also sponsored the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017, is Principal Partner of Sydney Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Presidential Partner of Taronga Zoo. For further information, visit: https://aragroup.com.au/

About the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA)

Recognised as the home of the historical fiction genre in Australasia, the HNSA supports and promotes the writing, reading and publication of historical fiction across Australia and New Zealand. It is the third arm of the international Historical Novel Society. Our events showcase the best literary talent and enable readers, writers and publishing professionals to celebrate the genre.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is the crown jewel in HNSA’s suite of literary contests.  HNSA also runs the ARA HNSA Short Story Contest, the TCW HNSA First Pages Pitch Contest, the Colleen McCullough Residency held on Norfolk Island and the Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship for Young Adult historical novelists. For further information, visit: https://hnsa.org.au/


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