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Book of the Year (1974-)
Subcategory of The Age Book of the Year Award
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History

Like the other awards in this category, the Book of the Year Award was discontinued in 2013; it was also the only category revived in 2021.

Notes

  • The winner of the Book of the Year is chosen from among the three finalists in The Age Book of the Year Award. The winner of this award is the overall winner.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon The Rain Heron Robbie Arnott , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 17948922 2020 single work novel

'Soldiers have come to the village.
Ren looked up, avoiding Barlow’s words, resting her eyes on the pines that crowded the sky, swamp-green, thick, heavy with resin that stuck to skin and cleared throats, nostrils, eyes.
Barlow was sitting on a large rock. When she didn’t answer, he kept talking.
They’re after something—they won’t say what. But it’s up here. On the mountain.

'REN lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading—and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission.

'As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt—as myths merge with reality—both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2011

winner y separately published work icon Indelible Ink Fiona McGregor , Carlton North : Scribe , 2010 Z1679611 2010 single work novel (taught in 4 units)

'Marie King is a 59-year-old divorcée from Sydney's affluent north shore. Having devoted her rather conventional life to looking after her husband and three children - who have now all departed the family home - she is experiencing something of an identity crisis, especially as she must now sell the family home and thus lose her beloved garden. On a folly she gets a tattoo.

'Marie forges a friendship with her tattoo artist, Rhys, who introduces her to an alternative side of Sydney. Through their burgeoning connection, Marie's two worlds collide causing great friction within Marie's family and with her circle of rich friends.' (From the publisher's website.)

Year: 2010

winner y separately published work icon Lovesong Alex Miller , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009 Z1630287 2009 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever.

John is like no-one Sabiha has met before - his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage - a marriage of two cultures lived in a third - and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.

Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose - questions have no simple answer.

Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.' (From the publisher's website.)

Year: 2009

winner y separately published work icon Things We Didn't See Coming Steven Amsterdam , Collingwood : Sleepers Publishing , 2009 Z1564576 2009 selected work short story (taught in 3 units)

Nine connected stories, ' Things We Didn't See Coming follows a man over three decades as he tries to survive - and to retain his humanity - in a world savaged by successive cataclysmic events.

Opening on the eve of the millennium, when the world as we know it is still recognisable, we meet the then nine-year-old narrator fleeing the city with his parents, just ahead of a Y2K breakdown of the grid which signals the world's transformation and decline. In the wake of this develop strange, sometimes horrific, sometimes unexpectedly funny circumstances as he goes about the no longer simple act of survival: trying to protect squatters against floods in a place where the rains never stop; harassed (and possibly infected) by a man wracked with plague; functioning as a salaried embezzler of 'the state'; escorting the gravely ill on adventure trips.

Yet despite the violence and brutality of these days, we learn that even as the world is spinning out of control essential human impulses still hold sway - that we never entirely escape our parents, envy the success of those around us and, chiefly, that we crave love' (Harvill Secker website).

Year: 2008

winner y separately published work icon American Journeys Don Watson , North Sydney : Random House , 2008 Z1477248 2008 single work prose travel

'Only in America - the most powerful democracy on earth, home to the best and worst of everything - are the most extreme contradictions possible. In a series of journeys acclaimed author Don Watson set out to explore the nation that has influenced him more than any other.

'Travelling by rail gave Watson a unique and seductive means of peering into the United States, a way to experience life with its citizens: long days with the American landscape and American towns and American history unfolding on the outside, while inside a tiny particle of the American people talked among themselves.

'Watson's experiences are profoundly affecting: he witnesses the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast; explores the savage history of the Deep South, the heartland of the Civil War; and journeys to the remarkable wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Yet it is through the people he meets that Watson discovers the incomparable genius of America, its optimism, sophistication and riches - and also its darker side, its disavowal of failure and uncertainty.

'... American Journeys investigates the meaning of the United States: its confidence, its religion, its heroes, its violence, and its material obsessions. The things that make America great are also its greatest flaws.' (Publisher's blurb)

Works About this Award

Musings of Past Passions Penelope Debelle , 2005 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 20 August 2005; (p. 3)
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