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Book of the Year
Subcategory of The Age Book of the Year Award
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Winners

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.)

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.)

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)

2006 winner y separately published work icon Friendly Fire Jennifer Maiden , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2005 Z1219373 2005 selected work poetry satire (taught in 2 units)
2005 winner y separately published work icon Plenty : Digressions on Food Gay Bilson , Camberwell : Lantern , 2004 Z1160512 2004 single work autobiography
2004 winner y separately published work icon Totem : Totem Poem Plus 40 Love Poems Totem : Totem Poem Plus Forty Love Poems Luke Davies , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1122290 2004 selected work poetry
2003 winner y separately published work icon Of a Boy Sonya Hartnett , Ringwood : Viking , 2002 Z969271 2002 single work novel mystery (taught in 3 units) The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory; his best friend is Clinton Tull. He loves to draw and he wants a dog; he's afraid of quicksand, shopping centres and self-combustion. Adrian watches his suburban world, but there is much he cannot understand. He does not for instance, know why three neighbourhood children might set out to buy ice-cream and never come back home.
2002 winner y separately published work icon Recollections of a Bleeding Heart : A Portrait of Paul Keating PM Don Watson , Milsons Point : Random House Australia , 2002 Z994945 2002 single work biography 'In December 1991 Paul Keating wrested the role of Prime Minister from Bob Hawke and the bruises from that struggle were part of the baggage he brought to the job: the other parts included the worst recession in 60 years and an electorate determined to make him pay for it. Keating defied the odds and won the 1993 election, and in his four years as Prime Minister set Australia on a new course - towards engagement with Asia, a republic, reconciliation, a social democracy built on a modern export-based economy and sophisticated public systems of education and training, health and social security. Widely regarded as a quintessential economic rationalist, Keating's record clearly shows that his vision was infinitely broader and more complex.

'Don Watson was employed as Keating's speechwriter. Based on the diaries Watson kept through the four turbulent and exhausting years of Keating's Prime Ministership, on its release Recollections of a Bleeding Heart was widely deemed a masterpiece. It is at once a groundbreaking "inside" account of politics and a profound and extraordinarily frank study of the most intriguing and visionary politician in Australia's modern history. Now, when vision and character have all but vanished from politics, Don Watson's Recollections makes absorbing - and essential - reading.' (From the publisher's website, 10th anniversary edition.)
2001 winner y separately published work icon True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2000 Z668312 2000 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 29 units)

'"I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false."

'In TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.' (From the publisher's website.)

2000 winner y separately published work icon Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop Amy Witting , Ringwood : Penguin , 1999 Z309744 1999 single work novel

'Isobel Callaghan is struggling to make a career as a writer in Sydney. She is isolated, poor and hungry, and fears she’s going mad. Leaving her room in a boarding house in search of food, she has a breakdown on the way to the corner shop.

'Waking in hospital, Isobel learns that she will be confined to a sanatorium in the Blue Mountains. There, among the motley assortment of patients, and with the aid of great works of literature, she will confront the horrors of her past. But can she find a way to face the future?

'Confronting and compassionate, profound and funny, the second Isobel Callaghan novel is every bit as brilliant as its much-loved predecessor. It confirmed Amy Witting as one of the finest Australian writers of her time. ' (Text Classic summary)

1999 winner y separately published work icon Sacred Places : War Memorials in the Australian Landscape Ken Inglis , Carlton : Miegunyah Press , 1998 Z1065027 1998 single work non-fiction

'Memorials to Australian participation in wars abound in our landscape. From Melbourne's huge Shrine of Remembrance to the modest marble soldier, obelisk or memorial hall in suburb and country town, they mourn and honour Australians who have served and died for their country. Surprisingly, they have largely escaped scrutiny. Ken Inglis argues that the imagery, rituals and rhetoric generated around memorials constitute a civil religion, a cult of ANZAC. Sacred Places traces three elements which converged to create the cult: the special place of war in the European mind when nationalism was at its zenith; the colonial condition; and the death of so many young men in distant battle, which impelled the bereaved to make substitutes for the graves of which history had deprived them. The 'war memorial movement' attracted conflict as well as commitment. Inglis looks at uneasy acceptance, even rejection, of the cult by socialists, pacifists, feminists and some Christians, and at its virtual exclusion of Aborigines. He suggests that between 1918 and 1939 the making, dedication and use of memorials enhanced the power of the right in Australian public life. Finally, he examines a paradox. Why, as Australia's wars recede in public and private memory, and as a once British Australia becomes multicultural, have the memorials and what they stand for become more cherished than ever? Sacred Places spans war, religion, politics, language and the visual arts. Ken Inglis has distilled new cultural understandings from a familiar landscape.' (Publication summary)

1998 winner y separately published work icon Three Dollars Elliot Perlman , Sydney : Picador , 1998 Z131955 1998 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

'At once humorous and dramatic, Three Dollars is about Eddie, an honest, compassionate man who finds himself, at the age of 38, with a wife, a child and three dollars. How did he get that way? And who is Amanda? He cared about people; he was, Amanda notwithstanding, a good husband, father and son. At any other time the world would have smiled on him. But this was the nineties and the world valued other things. Three Dollars chronicles the present breach of the social contract and its effect on a home near you. It is a brilliantly deft portrait of a man attempting to retain his humanity, his family and his sense of humour in grim and pitiless times: times of downsizing, outsourcing and privatising. It is about the legacy of Thatcherism and its effects on people and their relationships.' (Synopsis)

1997 winner y separately published work icon Snake Cradle Roberta Sykes , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1997 Z328748 1997 single work autobiography (taught in 1 units)

'Snake Cradle is the first volume of Roberta Sykes's three volume autobiography, Snake Dreaming. Snake Cradle chronicles the early years of one of Australia's best known activists for Aboriginal rights, from the time of her birth in Townsville in the 1940s through to the birth of her son when she was 17, and the trial of the men who raped her.

Roberta's voice is strong and true as she describes far north Queensland of the time, her battles with a series of childhood illnesses, and her growing awareness that hers was not an ordinary Australian childhood. Born to a white mother and a father whose identity she did not know, her passion and commitment to the struggles of the Aboriginal people was shaped by the racism her dark skin invoked. A powerful and moving autobiography about a history that must never be forgotten.' (Allen and Unwin)

1996 winner y separately published work icon The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow Thea Astley , Ringwood New York (City) : Viking , 1996 Z287862 1996 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 1 units)

'Tracing the lead-up to and aftermath of a bloody showdown when the superintendent of a Queensland mission goes on a murderous rampage.

'In 1930 the superintendent of a mission on a Queensland island, driven mad by his wife’s death, goes on a murderous rampage. Fearing for their lives, the other whites arm a young Indigenous man and order him to shoot Uncle Boss dead.

'The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow traces the lead-up to this bloody showdown and the repercussions in the years after - for Aboriginal people and the colonial overseers.' (Publication summary)

1995 winner y separately published work icon Selected Poems : 1956-1994 Chris Wallace-Crabbe , Oxford Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1995 Z396798 1995 selected work poetry
1994 winner y separately published work icon The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith Peter Carey , Toronto : Random House Canada , 1994 Z508427 1994 single work novel (taught in 2 units) Peter Carey has wholly reimagined the world in The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith. It is vaguely futuristic, underlain with the sediment of a recently ruined past, just post-colonial, culturally monolithic, and although everything seems familiar, nothing is quite recognizable. Our guide here is Tristan Smith himself: a freak of nature, a 'cracked and mended pot' of flesh that hides a 'normal' human being. Tristan is everything one could ask for in a companion and interpretive center of attention - one way or another - wherever he goes, he is sharp-eyed and quick-witted, unsentimental and unforgiving: the perfect witness to the fact and extraordinary effect of his own 'monstrosity.' Tristan takes us barrelling through his life and times (learning to be invisible and viable, coming of age, losing his mother, searching for his father, transforming himself from something people are afraid even to imagine into something already sanctioned for their imaginations), down a riotously populated, circuitous path that leads, finally, to the Sirkus: the newest entertainment opiate, the inspiration of slavish devotion in audiences, and, perhaps, the source of Tristan's ultimate transformation. The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith is the picaresque made post-modern, a tragicomedy in constant, convulsive motion. (Source: Trove)
1993 joint winner y separately published work icon Journeyings : The Biography of a Middle-Class Generation 1920-1990 Janet McCalman , Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 1993 Z1065092 1993 single work non-fiction
1993 joint winner y separately published work icon The Georges' Wife Elizabeth Jolley , Ringwood : Viking , 1993 Z545267 1993 single work novel

'Vera and Mr George have made a new life together but Vera's thoughts return again and again to loves and lovers, meetings and partings - the voices that echo in the mind like music. What has she learned from the well-bred peace of the Georges' household; the decadence and disorder of her friendship with Noel and Felicity: the fun and vulgarity shared with her 'widow' on the long voyage to Australia? Must we always repeat the past?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1992 joint winner y separately published work icon Lovers' Knots : A Hundred-Year Novel Marion Halligan , Port Melbourne : Heinemann Australia , 1992 Z314607 1992 single work novel
1991 winner y separately published work icon Patrick White : A Life David Marr , London : Jonathan Cape , 1991 Z307107 1991 single work biography 'Patrick White, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of more than a dozen novels and plays - including Voss, The Vivisector and The Twyborn Affair - lived an extraordinary life. David Marr's brilliant biography draws not only on a wide range of original research but also on the single most difficult and important source of all: the man himself. Gracefully written and exhaustively researched, Patrick White is a biography of classic excellence - sympathetic, objective, penetrating and as blunt, when necessary, as White himself.' (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1989 winner y separately published work icon My Father's Moon Elizabeth Jolley , Ringwood : Viking , 1989 Z206273 1989 single work novel (taught in 1 units) 'Vera is young, awkward and naive. As a schoolgirl, she has her sheltered idealism, her Quaker boarding-school education, and the warm, enveloping sense of security of her parents. As a student nurse during the war, her transition into womanhood is rapid, painful and disastrous. And as an unmarried mother she flees from the nagging tension of her home and the hospital gossip to Fairfields, a place of poetry, music and of people with interesting lives and ideas. Quickly she learns it is otherwise. Yet, for Vera, there is always the moon — her companion, comforter, and the unbreakable link with her father...' (Publisher's blurb, 2008 Penguin publication.)
1988 winner y separately published work icon Forty-Seventeen Frank Moorhouse , Ringwood : Viking , 1988 Z356438 1988 selected work short story (taught in 1 units)
1987 winner y separately published work icon Stories from the Warm Zone and Sydney Stories Jessica Anderson , Ringwood : Penguin , 1987 Z366184 1987 selected work short story autobiography

'Stories told from the point of view of Beatie, a young girl growing up in Brisbane,  (Publication summary)recreate family relationships and trace the path from adolescence to adulthood.'

1986 winner y separately published work icon Sister Ships and Other Stories Joan London , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 1986 Z32372 1986 selected work short story
1985 winner y separately published work icon Illywhacker Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1985 Z359598 1985 single work novel (taught in 2 units) In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, may be the king of them all. Vagabond and charlatan, aviator and car salesman, seducer and patriarch, Badgery is a walking embodiment of the Australian national character. (Source: Trove)
1984 winner y separately published work icon The Bellarmine Jug : A Novel Nicholas Hasluck , Ringwood : Penguin , 1984 Z380054 1984 single work novel
1983 winner y separately published work icon Mr Scobie's Riddle Elizabeth Jolley , Ringwood : Penguin , 1983 Z183979 1983 single work novel

'Mr Scobie's arrival at the nursing home of St Christopher and St Jude - and descent into the clutches of Matron Hyacinth Price - is accidental. Adrift in his own memories but preserving a gentle politesse, Mr Scobie stands apart from the others.

'For long-term resident and eccentric, Miss Hailey, he represents a kindred spirit; for Matron Price - a lady of questionable practices - the latest victim.

'This bleakly comic investigation of old age, exile and displacement shows Elizabeth Jolley at her finest. It is written with wry humour, melancholy and great warmth.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Modern Classics ed.).

1982 winner y separately published work icon Fly Away Peter The Bread of Time to Come David Malouf , 1982 London : Chatto and Windus , 1982 Z22123 1982 single work novella war literature (taught in 14 units) 'For three very different people brought together by their love for birds, life on the Queensland coast in 1914 is the timeless and idyllic world of sandpipers, ibises and kingfishers. In another hemisphere civilization rushes headlong into a brutal conflict. Life there is lived from moment to moment. Inevitably, the two young men - sanctuary owner and employee - are drawn to the war, and into the mud and horror of the trenches of Armentieres. Alone on the beach, their friend Imogen, the middle-aged wildlife photographer, must acknowledge for all three of them that the past cannot be held.' (Source: Publisher's website)
1981 winner y separately published work icon A Million Wild Acres : 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest Eric Rolls , Melbourne : Nelson , 1981 Z816342 1981 single work non-fiction 'Here is a contentious story of men and their passion for land; of occupation and settlement; of destruction and growth. By following the tracks of these pioneers who crossed the Blue Mountains into northern New South Wales, Eric Rolls - poet, farmer and self-taught naturalist - has written the history of European settlement in Australia. He evokes the ruthlessness and determination of the first settlers who worked the land -- a land they knew little about.
Rolls has re-written the history of settlement and destroyed the argument that Australia's present dense eucalypt forests are the remnants of 200 years of energetic clearing. Neither education nor social advantage decided the success of the first settlers, or those squatters, selectors, stockmen and timber getters who helped grow the Pilliga forest. Few men were more violent than John Macarthur, few rogues more vigorous than William Cox, few statesmen more self-seeking than William Wentworth.
Rolls' environment teems with wildlife, with plants and trees, with feral pigs; with the marvellous interaction of insects and plants, rare animals and birds. The lovely tangle which is the modern forest comes to life as Rolls reflects on soils, living conditions, breeding and ecology' (GHR Press website).
1980 joint winner y separately published work icon A Woman of the Future David Ireland , Ringwood : Penguin , 1979 Z121783 1979 single work novel

'A Woman of the Future, first published in 1979, was David Ireland’s best-selling sixth novel and his third to win the Miles Franklin Award.

'An imaginative tour de force, it is the story of the young life of Anthea Hunt—from conception to sexual awakening. It is controversial and brilliant, and unlike anything else in Australian literature.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

1980 joint winner y separately published work icon Homesickness Murray Bail , South Melbourne : Macmillan , 1980 Z108653 1980 single work novel humour (taught in 1 units)

'It could almost have been their own country: these sections with the gums briefly framed like a traditional oil painting by the slowly passing window. The colours were as brown and parched; that chaff-coloured grass, Ah, this dun-coloured realism. Any minute now the cry of the crow or a cockatoo; but no.

'Thirteen men and women travel the world on a package tour but wherever they go nothing is as it seems.

'Challenged by the unexpected, by differences and subtleties, Bail’s tourists are in turn repelled and attracted—and all are altered.' (Publication summary)

1979 winner y separately published work icon 1915 : A Novel Roger McDonald , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1979 Z80145 1979 single work novel historical fiction war literature
1978 joint winner y separately published work icon The Year of Living Dangerously Christopher Koch , West Melbourne : Nelson , 1978 Z493822 1978 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

'The charismatic god-king Sukarno has brought Indonesia to the edge of chaos - to an abortive revolution that will leave half a million dead. For the Western correspondents here, this gathering apocalypse is their story and their drug, while the sufferings of the Indonesian people are scarcely real: a shadow play. Working at the eye of the storm are television correspondent Guy Hamilton and his eccentric cameraman Billy Kwan. In Kwan's secret fantasy life, both Sukarno and Hamilton are heroes. But his heroes betray him, and Billy is driven to desperate action. As the Indonesian shadow play erupts into terrible reality, a complex personal tragedy of love, obsession and betrayal comes to its climax.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Award shared with Patsy Adam-Smith, The Anzacs
1978 joint winner y separately published work icon The Anzacs Patsy Adam-Smith , West Melbourne : Nelson , 1978 Z1065868 1978 single work non-fiction

'Gallipoli was the final resting place for thousands of young Australians. Death struck so fast there was not time for escape or burial. And when Gallipoli was over there was the misery of the European Campaign. Patsy Adam-Smith read over 8000 diaries and letters to write her acclaimed best-seller about the First World War. Soldiers sought her out to tell her why they went, what they saw, and how they felt about that great holocaust. Their simple accounts are more vivid than any novel; the years have not dimmed their memories of lost comrades and the horrors of war. These are the extraordinary experiences of ordinary men - and they strike to the heart. The Anzacs remains unrivalled as the classic account of Australia's involvement in the First World War.' (Publisher's blurb)

Award shared with Christopher Koch, The Year of Living Dangerously
1977 winner y separately published work icon A Certain Grandeur : Gough Whitlam in Politics Graham Freudenberg , South Melbourne : Macmillan , 1977 Z1065631 1977 single work biography

'Graham Freudenberg's inside account of Gough Whitlam's political rise and fall is one of the great classics of Australian political writing. From his position as Gough's speechwriter and confidant, just out of the spotlight of history, Freudenberg was an eyewitness to Gough's spectacular rise and fall, which he documents with compelling drama. But A Certain Grandeur's most significant achievement is to capture so vividly the character of the man - dictatorial, petulant, erudite, revolutionary.

'This new edition has been updated to include the Labor Party's regeneration following the Dismissal, and to lay to rest myths about Gough and his government's achievements that have prevailed in the three decades since, including those surrounding what has become one of the most controversial legacies: East Timor.' (From the publisher's website, 2009 rev.ed.)

1975 winner y separately published work icon A Kindness Cup Thea Astley , Melbourne : Nelson , 1974 Z269301 1974 single work novel historical fiction

'I told them to go into the scrub and disperse the tribe.
Disperse? That is a strange word. What do you mean by dispersing?
Firing at them.

'Two decades after a massacre of local Aboriginal people, the former residents of a Queensland town have reunited to celebrate the progress and prosperity of their community. Tom Dorahy, returning to his hometown, is having none of it: he wants those responsible to own up to their actions. A reckoning with oppression, guilt and the weight of the past, A Kindness Cup is one of Thea Astley’s greatest achievements.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1974 joint winner y separately published work icon The Pure Land David Foster , South Melbourne : Macmillan , 1974 Z178749 1974 single work novel
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