Malcolm Turnbull has had a pretty busy time of late so perhaps we can cut him some slack. But at last the organisers of the prizes dished out in his name, the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, have announced the shortlists for the six categories - fiction, non-fiction, young-adult fiction, children's fiction, poetry and Australian history.
Four of the six novels shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award - The Last Days of Eva Langdon (Mark O'Flynn), Their Brilliant Careers (Ryan O'Neill), Waiting (Philip Salom) and the winner, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson - are joined by Steven Amsterdam's novel about assisted suicide, The Easy Way Out, on the fiction list.
Two literary lives - of Randolph Stow and Alan Moorehead, by Suzanne Falkiner and Thornton McCamish respectively - are on the non-fiction list along with The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft (Tom Griffiths), Quicksilver (Nicolas Rothwell) and The Art of Rivalry (Sebastian Smee).
The poetry list is: Painting Red Orchids (Eileen Chong), Year of the Wasp (Joel Deane), Content (Liam Ferney), Fragments (Antigone Kefala) and Headwaters (Anthony Lawrence). The Australian History shortlist includes Matthew Flinders & George Bass (Josephine Bastian), Valiant for Truth (Neil McDonald), Evatt (John Murphy), Atomic Thunder (Elizabeth Tynan) and A Handful of Sand (Charlie Ward).
On the young-adult fiction list are Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley), The Bone Sparrow (Zana Fraillon), The Stars at Oktober Bend (Glenda Millard), Forgetting Foster (Dianne Touchell) and One Would Think the Deep (Claire Zorn). Children's fiction includes Home in the Rain (Bob Graham), Blue Sky Yellow Kite (Janet A. Holmes & Jonathan Bentley), My Brother (Dee, Oliver & Tiffany Huxley), Figgy and the President (Tamsin Janu) and Dragonfly Song (Wendy Orr).
The awards are worth $80,000 each, with $5000 to each shortlisted book. The winners will be announced in December.