Become a member


September 29, 2022

S.L. Lim wins 2022 Barbara Jefferis Award

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA), is delighted to announce the winner of the 2022 Barbara Jefferis Award is S.L. Lim for Revenge: Murder in Three Parts (Transit Lounge Publishing).

The judges said, ‘In choosing Revenge as our winner, we firstly discussed the almost painful sympathy we felt for the protagonist, Yannie. While other books on our shortlist were also emotionally involving, particularly the books by Down, Janson, and Wyld, we felt that Revenge edged ahead of these due to the freshness of its setting and the relevance of its message to everyone. None of us could recall reading a recent novel set in Malaysia, despite its proximity to Australia, nor one dealing with the ingrained sexism that robs girls and women of the chance to live a full life. 

We admired Lim’s clear eye in addressing the internalised misogyny of their women characters and the agony of Yannie’s desires in a homophobic society. Revenge could be read as a revenge fantasy, and while this view is cathartic, it’s not just about one woman and her story. 

Our deciding factor was the incredible way that Lim addresses the complex structural and cultural dynamics that prevented Yannie having agency over her own life. Revenge answers those people who say: why didn’t she just? Why didn’t she just leave, why didn’t she just say no, why didn’t she just do it anyway? Because Yannie loves the people who oppress her more than she loves herself, because of the messages she’s received since she was born.’

S.L. Lim says, ‘I’m delighted to accept the Barbara Jefferis Award in honour of that author. I’m grateful to the judges, the ASA, and to John Hinde for being a person who liked things and who chose to support them even after his passing. Many good writers win prizes and many don’t; today I am a happy person in category A. This award makes a big difference to my life and I hope that others who need and deserve a break get theirs too!’

ASA CEO, Olivia Lanchester says, ‘Our warm congratulations to S.L. Lim! Revenge is an extraordinary, unapologetic novel which holds a mirror to society, and explores, heartbreakingly, the inequities faced by Yannie and shared by many women and girls. The simmering rage of this novel is compelling. The Australian Society of Authors is honoured to be the Trustee of the Award, and is grateful for John Hinde’s bequest to commemorate his wife, Barbara Jefferis.’

Lim was announced as the 2022 winner at a ceremony at the State Library of Victoria in Naarm/Melbourne on Thursday 29 September.

This year’s judging panel was chaired by internationally bestselling author Toni Jordan. Jordan was joined on the panel by writer, musician, and former Barbara Jefferis Award winner Peggy Frew, and writer, poet and essayist Declan Fry.

The 2022 shortlist included:

      • Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down (Text Publishing)

      • Ordinary Matter by Laura Elvery (University of Queensland Press)

      • Benevolence by Julie Janson (Magabala Books)

      • Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim (Transit Lounge)

      • Smart Ovens for Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan (Brio Books)

      • The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (Penguin Random House Australia)

    Three highly commended novels were also selected:

        • She is Haunted by Paige Clark (Allen & Unwin)

        • A Million Things by Emily Spurr (Text Publishing)

        • The Performance by Claire Thomas (Hachette Australia)

      About the Award

      The Barbara Jefferis Award celebrates women in literature and is awarded biennially for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.

      The Award is named for highly regarded author Barbara Jefferis, a founding member and executive director of the Australian Society of Authors. It is supported by the Barbara Jefferis Literary Fund, which was established as a result of a bequest from Barbara Jefferis’ husband, ABC film critic John Hinde, who died in 2006. The Australian Society of Authors is the Trustee of the Fund.

      The winner receives a prize of $50,000, with $5,000 distributed among the shortlist, making this one of the most generous literary awards in Australia.

      The winner of the 2020 Barbara Jefferis Award was Lucy Treloar for Wolfe Island.

      More information about the Barbara Jefferis Award here.