Les Carlyon Literary Prize shortlist announced 3 November

The Australian War Memorial has announced shortlisted finalists for the Les Carlyon Literary Prize.

“The impacts of war have been a strong theme this year, particularly in works dealing with recent conflicts in the Middle East,” Australian War Memorial Head of Military History, Dr Karl James, said.

“The subject matter ranges from frontier violence to recent conflicts. The bulk of the entries were non-fiction with strong representation from veterans, family historians, journalists and academics.”

The prize will be awarded for a publication relating to Australian military history, social military history or war history, published between July 2020 and June 2022.

The prize is named in honour of historian, author and journalist Les Carlyon AC, who was a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial from May 2006 until his passing in March 2019.

“Les Carlyon was a master storyteller who made a lifelong contribution to both Australian journalism and literature,” Director of the Australian War Memorial, Matt Anderson, said.

“Through his impeccable research and readability, Carlyon brought Australian military history to an entirely new audience. But his passion for military history extended well beyond his writing, having served on the Council of the Australian War Memorial with his unique blend of wisdom and humour for more than a decade.

“The Les Carlyon Literary Prize is a way to support both emerging and established military or war history writers and to find and to encourage the best storytellers in Australia.”

The judging panel considered literary merit, the contribution of the work to understanding the Australian experience of war and conflict, authenticity and credibility, and originality.

Four works were shortlisted from more than 30 works submitted for the prize:

  • Xavier Fowler, Not Playing the Game: Sport and Australia’s Great War – Melbourne University Press
  • Stephen Gapps, Gudyarra: The First Wiradyuri War of Resistance, 1822-1824 – NewSouth Books
  • Christine Helliwell, Semut – Penguin Books Australia
  • Ben McKelvey, Mosul: Australia’s secret war inside the ISIS caliphate – Hachette Australia

The winner will be announced at the Australian War Memorial on 22 November and recieve $10,000.

Stephen Gapps’ work The Sydney Wars was the inaugural winner of the Les Carlyon Literary Prize in 2020.

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