ALS Gold Medal 2014


Dr Philip Butterss (Chair) (U Adelaide)

Dr Mandy Treagus (U Adelaide)

Kelli Rowe ( U Adelaide)


Luke Carman, An Elegant Young Man (Giramondo)

Hannah Kent, Burial Rites (Picador)

Eleanor Limprecht, What Was Left (Sleepers)

Alex Miller, Coal Creek (A & U)

Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda (A & U)

Alexis Wright, The Swan Book (Giramondo)



Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book is a novel of serious political intent concerning the migration of stories, peoples, imaginations and cultures. Wright’s remarkable third novel is rightfully angry, necessarily challenging, deeply personal, and universally damning. The central plot line of The Swan Book follows the story of Oblivion Ethyl(ene), or Oblivia, a mute teenage girl who is the victim of a gang rape in her displaced and army-controlled Indigenous community. The narrative style is an extension of Wright’s Carpentaria, blending many dimensions and registers simultaneously; The Swan Book is satirical, humorous, folkloric, mythical, magical and scathing, and combines the literal and the metaphoric with virtuosic skill. The logic with which Wright connects some of the most pressing political issues of our time—Indigenous rights, intervention, climate change, refugee policy—is compelling, and her projection of these issues into a dystopian future reveals both their messiness and their urgency.


The ALS Gold Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year. The Medal was inaugurated by the Australian Literature Society, which was founded in Melbourne in 1899 and incorporated into the Association for the Study of Australian Literature in 1982.  The winner receives a gold medal. No nominations are required, though ASAL members are invited to propose potential winners to the judging panel.

Previous award winners

2013 Michelle De Kretser, Questions of Travel (Allen &Unwin).

2012 Gillian Mears, Foal’s Bread (Allen & Unwin)

2011 Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance (Pan Macmillan)

2010 David Malouf, Ransom (Knopf)

2009Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap (Allen & Unwin)

2008 Michelle de Kretser, The Lost Dog (Allen & Unwin)

2007 Alexis Wright, Carpentaria (Giramondo )

2006 Gregory Day, The Patron Saint of Eels (Picador)

2005 Gail Jones, Sixty Lights (Harvill Press)

2004 Laurie Duggan, Mangroves (UQP)

2003 Kate Jennings, Moral Hazard

2002 Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fish

2001 Rodney Hall, The Day We Had Hitler Home

2000 Drusilla Modjeska, Stravinsky’s Lunch

1999 Murray Bail, Eucalyptus

1998 James Cowan, A Mapmaker’s Dream

1997 Robert Dessaix, Night Letters

1996 Amanda Lohrey, Camille’s Bread

1995 Helen Demidenko, The Hand That Signed The Paper

1994 Louis Nowra, Radiance and The Temple

1993 Elizabeth Riddell, Selected Poems

1992 Rodney Hall, The Second Bridegroom

1991 Elizabeth Jolley, Cabin Fever

1990 Peter Porter, Possible Worlds

1989 Frank Moorhouse, Forty-seventeen

1988 Brian Matthews, Louisa

1987 Alan Wearne, The Nightmarkets

1986 Thea Astley, Beachmasters

1985 David Ireland, Archimedes and the Seagle

1984 Les Murray, The People’s Other World

1983 David Malouf, Child’s Play; Fly Away Peter

1975-82 No Award (ASAL takes over award in 1983)

1974 David Malouf, Neighbours in a Thicket

1973 Francis Webb

1972 Alexander Buzo

1971 Colin Badger

1970 Manning Clark

1966 A.D. Hope

1965 Patrick White, The Burnt Ones

1964 Geoffrey Blainey, The Rush That Never Ended

1963 John Morrison, Twenty-three stories

1962 Vincent Buckley, Masters in Israel

1960 William Hart Smith, Poems of discovery

1959 Randolph Stow, To the Islands

1957 Martin Boyd, A Difficult Young Man

1955 Patrick White, The Tree of Man

1954 Mary Gilmore, Fourteen Men

1952 Tom Hungerford

1950 Jon Cleary, Just Let Me Be

1948 Herz Bergner, Between Sky and Sea

1942 Kylie Tennant, The Battlers

1941 Patrick White, Happy Valley

1940 William Baylebridge, This Vital Flesh

1939 Xavier Herbert, Capricornia

1938 R.D. FitzGerald, Moonlight Acre

1937 Kenneth ‘Seaforth’ Mackenzie, The Young Desire It

1936 Eleanor Dark, Return to Coolami

1935 Winifred Birkett, Earth’s Quality

1934 Eleanor Dark, Prelude to Christopher

1933 G.B. Lancaster (Edith J. Lyttleton) , Pageant

1932 Leonard Mann, Flesh in Armour

1931 Frank Dalby Davison, Manshy

1930 Vance Palmer, The Passage

1929 Henry Handel Richardson, Ultima Thule

1928 Martin Mills (Martin Boyd) , The Montforts

ASAL would appreciate any information about the gaps in this list. Please email Peter Kirkpatrick.