Generic filters
Search in excerpt


Generic filters
Search in excerpt

In a night of celebration for the literary community, ARA Group Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director, Edward Federman, was proud to join the Historical Novel Society of Australasia (HNSA) to announce the winner of the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize — the most significant genre-based literary prize in Australasia.

Held on 10 November, the anticipated award ceremony saw more than 40 guests gather physically and virtually at the State Library of New South Wales’s historic Gallery room amidst what has been a difficult year due to funding cuts couple with the economic impacts of COVID-19. The evening recognised three outstanding historical novelists in a class of their own for the first time ever as part of an Australian and New Zealand literary award. Key attendees included:

  • ARA Group Board members, Norbert Schweizer, James Marshall and Allison McCann
  • AFL Footballer Sydney Swans Hall of Fame and MD of ARA Indigenous Services, Michael O’Loughlin
  • HNSA patron and recognised author, Kate Forsyth
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Chair and renowned author, Susanne Gervay
  • Sydney Writers’ Festival CEO, Chrissy Sharp and Sydney Writers’ Festival Board members Mark Scott and Su-Ming Wong
  • Short-listed authors, Sienna Brown, Catherine Jinks and Mirandi Riwoe.



From more than 185 entries exploring a plethora of captivating, and oftentimes, gruelling eras in Australian and global history, ARA Group is thrilled to announce the winner of the inaugural 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize is Mirandi Riwoefor her novel Stone Sky Gold Mountain published by University of Queensland Press.

Riwoe was awarded $50,000 as the overall prize winner, with $5,000 awarded to each of the shortlisted authors: Sienna Brown for Master of My Fate (Penguin Books Australia) and Catherine Jinks for Shepherd (Text Publishing). With the average revenue earned by Australian authors for their writing just $12,900 per year[1], the award’s $60,000 prize pool aims to create a truly meaningful impact on the life of the winning author.


See a full recording of the spectacular night:

Stone Sky Gold Mountain
by Mirandi Riwoe (University of Queensland Press):
Mirandi Riwoe recreates the experiences of two Chinese siblings struggling to survive on the North Queensland goldfields in 1877.

The richly imagined novel explores themes of identity, racism, colonialism and gender — all of which are relevant today.

Brisbane-based Riwoe — who studied politics and holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies — attended the event virtually, and was surprised and thrilled upon hearing her name and watching her daughter walk on stage to accept the award on her behalf. 

See the long-list interview with Mirandi Riwoe:

“Historical fiction has a special place in my heart because it allows me to explore people who are ignored in their own time. Writing historical fiction also allows me to reflect upon current issues to do with culture and gender, but in the safe confines of the past,” Riwoe said in her acceptance speech.

“Something Tony Birch spoke of recently really resonated with me. He spoke of the myth and the fabrication — a lie that is carried on into the future of an Australian history recorded from settler invader sources. He encourages the exploration of a more ethical imagination, which I think is the perfect way to describe how historical fiction should be approached.”

“I feel so honoured to win this wonderful prize — the ARA Historical Novel Prize in its inaugural year.” 

Prior to being crowned the winner, Riwoe expressed the sheer importance of the award to authors in the genre of historical fiction. 

“An award like the ARA Historical Novel Prize is essential in supporting and promoting historical fiction as a genre and its authors, and there was quite a bit of excitement for this generous new prize, especially for historical fiction. I couldn’t resist throwing my hat in the ring.”

With the effects of COVID-19 causing significant impacts to many authors’ incomes, ARA Group is grateful to be able to provide the opportunity to these well-deserving authors as we continue to reward and recognise outstanding writing and preserve the past through historical literature.

ARA Group Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director, Edward Federman, said it was a pleasure to award the first ever ARA Historical Novel Prize to a truly deserving author.

“I am incredibly grateful for everyone who attended the official ceremony to award the winner and other short-listed authors with their prizes — whether it was in-person or virtually,” he said.

“ARA Group is thrilled to make a significant impact on the lives of those in the literary community with $60,000 awarded between the winner and two shortlisted entrants — particularly during what continues to be an incredibly difficult time for authors whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

More information about the prize can be found at 


Related topics

Share this article