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Debut Fiction
Subcategory of Indie Awards
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Winners

2019 winner y separately published work icon Boy Swallows Universe Trent Dalton , Sydney South : Fourth Estate , 2018 13529833 2018 single work novel

'Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

'But if Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner y separately published work icon Wimmera Mark Brandi , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2017 11202748 2017 single work novel crime mystery

'In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

'Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab's dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben's next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

'Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man's shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab's dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

'Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can't ignore the past any more.'

(Publication Summary)

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Dry Jane Harper , Sydney : Macmillan Australia , 2016 9592721 2016 single work novel detective

'WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

'Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ...

'When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

'And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret ... A secret Falk thought long-buried ... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface ...' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon Salt Creek Lucy Treloar , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2015 8775071 2015 single work novel historical fiction

'Salt Creek is set in the Coorong in the 1850s: a remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region in the new province of South Australia, which has been opened to graziers willing to chance their luck. Among them are Stanton Finch and his family, including sixteen-year-old Hester Finch.

'Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the travellers passing along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Hester witnesses the destruction of their subtle culture and begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2015 winner y separately published work icon Foreign Soil Maxine Beneba Clarke , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2014 6593323 2014 selected work short story

'In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2013 Z1828606 2013 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 1 units)

'In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.

'Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes's spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul. As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes's ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn't she?

'Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a deeply moving novel about personal freedom: who we are seen to be versus who we believe ourselves to be, and the ways in which we will risk everything for love. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland's formidable landscape, where every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?' (Publisher's blurb)

2013 winner y separately published work icon The Light between Oceans M. L. Stedman , North Sydney : Vintage Books , 2012 Z1851119 2012 single work novel historical fiction

'This is a story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same ...

'1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife Isabel live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.

'One April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant - and the path of the couple's lives hits an unthinkable crossroads.

'Only years later do they discover the devastating consequences of the decision they made that day - as the baby's real story unfolds...' (From the publisher's website.)

2012 winner y separately published work icon All That I Am Anna Funder , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2011 Z1731728 2011 single work novel historical fiction

'Anna Funder's utterly compelling first novel All That I Am is about the heroic and largely tragic fate of a small group of left-wing German activists who opposed the rise of Hitler. It centres on two real people: the playwright Ernst Toller (famously eulogized by his friend W H Auden), and one of his associates, Ruth Koplowitz. Ruth was also a friend of Toller, and came to live in Sydney after WW2, where Anna got to know her well in later life. Their lives were tied together by the charismatic, passionate Dora - All That I Am vividly, passionately and irresistibly brings back to life their struggles, their hopes, their fears and their fates.'

Source: Penguin News, 6 October 2010
Sighted: 11/10/2010

2011 winner y separately published work icon Rocks in the Belly Jon Bauer , Carlton North : Scribe , 2010 Z1679624 2010 single work novel

'Rocks in the Belly tells the story of an eight-year-old boy and the adult he becomes. When he is young his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son: jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, a child she can't help bonding with. As the connection between them grows, the son's envy triggers an event that profoundly changes everyone. Especially Robert.

'At twenty-eight, still haunted by his childhood, the son returns to face his mother, who is now chronically ill. He hasn't forgiven her for what happened to Robert, and yet she isn't the same domineering woman anymore. Now she's the dependent one and he the dominant force - a power he can't help but abuse.

'Written in two startlingly original voices, Rocks in the Belly is about the effortless destruction we wreak on one another in the simple pursuit of our own happiness, and a reminder that we never leave our childhood behind. A fast-paced, powerful, yet often beautiful and funny novel.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 winner y separately published work icon The Virtuoso Sonia Orchard , London Sydney : Fourth Estate , 2009 Z1553973 2009 single work novel

'"Looking back, I realise I'd always been waiting for the arrival of Noël Mewton-Wood. His entrance occurred with such ease that I began to believe he'd always been there, standing in the wings, long before I'd even laid eyes on him."

'London, November 1945: at a bohemian party, a young music student meets the charismatic concert pianist Noël Mewton-Wood. The two immediately become lovers, and the affair unleashes an overwhelming passion as grand and sublime as the music they both love.

'Ten years on, the student, now a successful writer, reflects on the affair, the forces that shaped him and the one he adored, and the romantic obsession that ruled and almost ruined his life.

'This assured, beautifully written debut novel is inspired by the brilliant life of Australian pianist Noël Mewton-Wood. Sonia Orchard vividly evokes the artistic world of post-war London in a novel of striking illuminations about music and imagination that is also a compelling and deeply moving love story.' (Publisher's blurb)

2008 inaugural winner y separately published work icon Addition Toni Jordan , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2008 Z1440960 2008 single work novel humour romance

'Grace counts. The letters in her name, Grace Lisa Vandenberg (19). The steps she takes every morning to the local cafe (920); the number of poppy seeds on her slice of orange cake, which dictates the number of bites she'll take to finish it. Grace counts everything, because numbers hold the world together, and Grace needs to keep an eye on how they're doing. Seamus Joseph O'Reilly (also a 19, with the sexiest hands Grace has ever seen) thinks Grace might be better off without the counting. If she could hold down a job, say. Or leave her flat without enumerating the contents of her cupboards or make a sandwich containing an unknown number of sprouts.

Grace's problem is that Seamus doesn't count. Her other problem is ... he does.' (Publisher's blurb)

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