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Two debut Pan Macmillan books win Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

January 31, 2020

Two debut Pan Macmillan books win Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Pan Macmillan is thrilled to announce that our two authors shortlisted for the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Chloe Higgins and Helena Fox, both took home prizes; Helena for Writing for Young Adults and Chloe for the People’s Choice Award. The debut authors received their prizes at the 2020 Award Ceremony at MPavilion in Melbourne overnight.

Debut author Chloe Higgins was awarded the People’s Choice Award for her harrowing memoir, The Girls. Chloe, who is also the Director of the Wollongong Writers Festival, published her book with Picador last year. For her book, Chloe took home a $2,000 prize and was awarded alongside the general category winners in the 2020 ceremony.  

The Girls details Chloe’s early life as a 17-year-old HSC student who found her life forever changed as a car carrying her father and two younger sisters veered off the highway one day as they travelled home. The book is an evocative and sorrowful memoir focusing on family, grief and sexuality and was met with praise by the Australian audience after being published in 2019.

The Girls distinguishes itself from other writing on trauma by its restraint, structure and literary sensibility. It is creative work, not just catharsis; one that leaves space for readers to breathe… The book is full of gripping contradictions: the craving for and retreat from intimacy; the impulse for survival that expresses in self-destructive ways; and the implosion from loss that keeps us from noticing the distance that shrapnel flew. Higgins builds up to this final theme with devastating effect.’ Judges’ report on The Girls 

Awarded as the winner of her category was Helena Fox, who received a $25,000 prize. Another debut Australian author, Helena’s lyrical first novel, How it Feels to Float, was the winner of the coveted Writing for Young Adults Award.

How it Feels to Float follows Biz, who doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing her friend Grace or noticing the new boy, Jasper. And she definitely doesn’t talk about her frequent-visitor, her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. The YA debut was met with critical praise and was nominated for a suite of literary awards in 2019.

How It Feels to Float is an honest and engaging depiction of grief, and life with anxiety and depression. The prose is striking and arresting, lyrical and magical, without ever feeling bogged down by its subject matter; even in the darkest moments, Biz (and the reader) are never left without hope… An exciting and exquisite debut.’ Judges’ report on How it Feels to Float

Pan Macmillan would like to congratulate Chloe and Helena on winning the coveted prizes with their debut books!




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