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HarperCollins Publishers announces the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize

HarperCollins Publishers announces the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize

HarperCollins Publishers Australia is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2018 Banjo Prize is journalist Tim Slee for his unpublished manuscript Burn.

A deeply moving and timely Australian story told with a laconic, deadpan wit, Burn opens when bankrupt dairy farmer Tom Murray decides he’d rather sell off his herd and burn down his own house than hand them over to the bank. But something goes tragically wrong, and Tom dies in the blaze. His wife, Dawn, doesn’t want him to have died for nothing and decides to hold a funeral procession for Tom as a protest, driving 350km from Heywood to bury him in Melbourne where he was born. To make a bigger impact she agrees with some neighbours to put his coffin on a horse and cart and take it slow – real slow. But on the night of their departure, someone burns down the local bank. And as the motley funeral procession passes through Victoria, there are more mysterious arson attacks. Dawn has five days to get to Melbourne before the police can impound the coffin and force her to bury her husband. Five days, five more towns, and a state ready to explode in flames. 

Catherine Milne, Head of Fiction at HarperCollins, says: ‘Burn is a novel that sneaks up on you, and takes you by surprise – and before you know it, you’re deep in its world and don’t want to leave. Burn is a thought-provoking, heart-warming, quintessential Australian novel like no other, and I’m just thrilled that it is our inaugural Banjo Prize winner.’

Tim Slee says: ‘I’m rapt over winning The Banjo Prize and being signed by HarperCollins. It makes me especially proud and happy that the manuscript that broke through for me is Burn, which is a book born in a time of bushfires, drought and hardship, and in which I tried to capture just a little of that unbreakable rebel spirit, that deep love of the land and support for each other through thick and thin, that to me is what Australia is really about.’

In partnership with News Regional Media, HarperCollins has also announced two runners-up who will each receive a written assessment of their manuscript from HarperCollins. The runners-up are Ruth McIver for Nothing Gold and Gregory James for Bordertown.

HarperCollins Australia launched The Banjo Prize for Australian fiction writers this year in a quest to find Australia’s next great storyteller. In its inaugural year, The Banjo Prize received over 320 entries from around Australia, with a shortlist of five entries announced on 13 August. Applicants were required to submit a full manuscript of adult commercial fiction, a 500-word synopsis and a 200-word biographical statement.

For more information please visit: or contact Sarah Barrett at HarperCollins 02 9952 5002 / [email protected]


August 31, 2018


HarperCollins Publishers announces the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize