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Subcategory of Indie Awards
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Winners

2019 winner y separately published work icon Bridge of Clay Markus Zusak , Sydney : Picador , 2018 13340612 2018 single work novel

'An unforgettable and sweeping family saga from Markus Zusak, the storyteller who gave us the extraordinary bestseller The Book Thief.

'Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current - of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He's a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for memory and tragedy. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It's an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment:

'A miracle and nothing less.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner y separately published work icon The Choke Sofie Laguna , Sydney : Allen and Unwin , 2017 11520939 2017 single work novel

'Abandoned by her mother and only occasionally visited by her secretive father, Justine is raised by her pop, a man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop's chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow it seems they might touch - a place of staggering natural beauty. But the river can't protect Justine from danger. Her father is a criminal, and the world he exposes her to can be lethal.

'Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back.

'The Choke is a brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power and violence, in which grown-ups can't be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature. This compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in trouble celebrates above all the indomitable nature of the human spirit.' (Synopsis)

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Last Painting of Sara de Vos Dominic Smith , New York (City) : Sarah Crichton Books , 2016 9187015 2016 single work novel historical fiction

'This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the reading's done. In his earlier, award-winning novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.

'In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain–a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Natural Way of Things Charlotte Wood , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2015 8719111 2015 single work novel (taught in 5 units)

'She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, 'I need to know where I am.' The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, 'Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.'

'Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a 'nurse'. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl's past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue - but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.

'The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.

'With extraordinary echoes of The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies, The Natural Way of Things is a compulsively readable, scarifying and deeply moving contemporary novel. It confirms Charlotte Wood's position as one of our most thoughtful, provocative and fearless truth-tellers, as she unflinchingly reveals us and our world to ourselves.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Golden Boys Sonya Hartnett , Melbourne : Penguin , 2014 7190850 2014 single work novel young adult

'Sonya Hartnett's third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia's finest writers.

'Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they'll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they've moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there's something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan , Sydney : Random House , 2013 Z1928536 2013 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 5 units)

'A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

'August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

'This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.' (Publisher's blurb)

2013 winner y separately published work icon Nine Days Toni Jordan , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012 Z1879159 2012 single work novel 'It is 1939 and although Australia is about to go to war, it doesn't quite realise yet that the situation is serious. Deep in the working-class Melbourne suburb of Richmond it is business—your own and everyone else's—as usual. And young Kip Westaway, failed scholar and stablehand, is living the most important day of his life.

Kip's momentous day is one of nine that will set the course for each member of the Westaway clan in the years that follow. Kip's mother, his brother Francis and, eventually, Kip's wife Annabel and their daughters and grandson: all find their own turning points, their triumphs and catastrophes, in days to come.

But at the heart of all their stories is Kip, and at the centre of Kip's fifteen-year-old heart is his adored sister Connie. They hold the threads that will weave a family.

In Nine Days Toni Jordan has harnessed all the spiky wit, compassion and lust for life that drew readers in droves to Addition and Fall Girl. Ambitious in scope and structure, triumphantly realised, this is a novel about one family and every family. It is about dreams and fights and sacrifices. And finally, of course, it is—as it must be—about love.' (Publisher's blurb)
2012 winner y separately published work icon The Street Sweeper Elliot Perlman , North Sydney : Vintage Australia , 2011 Z1796895 2011 single work novel 'How breathtakingly close we are to lives that at first seem so far away.

'From the civil rights struggle in the United States to the Nazi crimes against humanity in Europe, there are more stories than people passing each other every day on the bustling streets of every crowded city. Only some survive to become history.

'Recently released from prison, Lamont Williams, an African American probationary janitor in a Manhattan hospital and father of a little girl he can't locate, strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly patient, a Holocaust survivor who had been a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau. A few kilometres uptown, Australian historian Adam Zignelik, an untenured Columbia professor, finds both his career and his long-term romantic relationship falling apart. Emerging out of the depths of his own personal history, Adam sees, in a promising research topic suggested by an American World War II veteran, the beginnings of something that might just save him professionally and perhaps even personally. As these two men try to survive in early twenty-first-century New York, history comes to life in ways neither of them could have foreseen. Two very different paths - Lamont's and Adam's - lead to one greater story as The Street Sweeper, in dealing with memory, love, guilt, heroism, the extremes of racism and unexpected kindness, spans the twentieth century to the present, and spans the globe from New York to Melbourne, Chicago to Auschwitz.

'Epic in scope, this is a remarkable feat of storytelling.' (From publisher's website.)
2011 winner y separately published work icon Bereft Chris Womersley , Carlton North : Scribe , 2010 Z1714866 2010 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 1 units)

'It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the NSW town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox - a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 winner y separately published work icon Jasper Jones Craig Silvey , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009 Z1571013 2009 single work novel

'Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

'Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

'And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.' (Publisher's blurb)

2008 inaugural winner y separately published work icon Breath Tim Winton , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2008 Z1457075 2008 single work novel (taught in 21 units) 'Breath is a story about the wildness of youth - the lust for excitement and terror, the determination to be extraordinary, the wounds that heal and those that don't - and about learning to live with its passing.'
Source: Publisher's website
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