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People's Choice Award
Subcategory of New South Wales Premier's Literary 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 The Book of Dirt Bram Presser , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11521001 2017 single work novel historical fiction

'They chose not to speak and now they are gone. What's left to fill the silence is no longer theirs. This is my story, woven from the threads of rumour and legend.'

'Jakub Rand flees his village for Prague, only to find himself trapped by the Nazi occupation. Deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, he is forced to sort through Jewish books for a so-called Museum of the Extinct Race. Hidden among the rare texts is a tattered prayer book, hollow inside, containing a small pile of dirt.

'Back in the city, Františka Roubíčková picks over the embers of her failed marriage, despairing of her conversion to Judaism. When the Nazis summon her two eldest daughters for transport, she must sacrifice everything to save the girls from certain death.

'Decades later, Bram Presser embarks on a quest to find the truth behind the stories his family built around these remarkable survivors.

'The Book of Dirt is a completely original novel about love, family secrets, and Jewish myths. And it is a heart-warming story about a grandson's devotion to the power of storytelling and his family's legacy.'

2017 winner y separately published work icon Vancouver Nick Earls , Carlton South : Inkerman and Blunt , 2016 9174371 2016 single work novella

The story's narrator, Paul, remembers 'a giant who came to stay with his family when his father was trying to bring American football to Australia. The tall guy in question was a player called Knut Knudsen; as a small boy, our narrator sees him as the modern day equivalent of the Colossus of Rhodes. Knudsen has dreams of becoming of all things, a writer. And it turns out that when our narrator is all grown up, he himself has become a writer, and is on an author tour to a Canadian festival... As a side trip from his festival appearances, he reconnects with Knudsen, who has published several books and is now married and teaching creative writing at a university college' (Caroline Baum, Booktopia).

2014 winner y separately published work icon The Railwayman's Wife Ashley Hay , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2013 Z1927871 2013 single work novel 'In a small town on the land's edge, in the strange space at a war's end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story. In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway's library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank Draper is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.' (Publisher's blurb)
2013 winner y separately published work icon Animal People Charlotte Wood , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2011 Z1799698 2011 single work novel (taught in 2 units) '"He could not find one single more word to say. I just want to be free. He could not say those words. They had already withered in his mind, turned to dust. He did not even know, he marvelled now, what the hell those words had meant."

'Acclaimed novelist Charlotte Wood takes a character from her bestselling book The Children and turns her unflinching gaze on him and his world in her extraordinary novel, Animal People. Set in Sydney over a single day, Animal People traces a watershed day in the life of Stephen, aimless, unhappy, unfulfilled - and without a clue as to how to make his life better.

'His dead-end job, his demanding family, his oppressive feelings for Fiona and the pitiless city itself ... the great weight of it all threatens to come crashing down on him. The day will bring untold surprises and disasters, but will also show him - perhaps too late - that only love can set him free.

'Sharply observed, hilarious, tender and heartbreaking, Animal People is a portrait of urban life, a meditation on the conflicted nature of human-animal relationships, and a masterpiece of storytelling. Filled with shocks of recognition and revelation, it shows a writer of great depth and compassion at work. (From the publisher's website.)
2012 winner y separately published work icon Five Bells Gail Jones , North Sydney : Vintage Australia , 2011 Z1735512 2011 single work novel (taught in 19 units)

'On a radiant day in Sydney, four adults converge on Circular Quay, site of the iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Crowds of tourists mix with the locals, enjoying the glorious surroundings and the play of light on water.

'But each of the four carries a complicated history from elsewhere; each is haunted by past intimacies, secrets and guilt: Ellie is preoccupied by her sexual experiences as a girl, James by a tragedy for which he feels responsible, Catherine by the loss of her beloved brother in Dublin and Pei Xing by her imprisonment during China's Cultural Revolution.

'Told over the course of a single Saturday, Five Bells describes four lives which chime and resonate, sharing mysterious patterns and symbols. But it is a fifth person, a child, whose presence at the Quay haunts the day and who will overshadow everything that unfolds. By night-time, when Sydney is drenched in a rainstorm, each life has been transformed.' (From the publisher's website.)

2011 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.)

2010 winner y separately published work icon The World Beneath Cate Kennedy , Carlton North : Scribe , 2009 Z1609077 2009 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

'Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age - although they've gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common these days is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

'When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian wilderness, his overconfidence and her growing disillusion with him set off a chain of events that no one could have predicted. Instead of respect, Rich finds antagonism in his relationship with Sophie; and in the vast landscape he once felt an affinity with, he encounters nothing but disorientation and fear.

'Ultimately, all three characters will learn that if they are to survive, each must traverse not only the secret territories that lie between them but also those within themselves.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 winner y separately published work icon A Fraction of the Whole Steve Toltz , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2008 Z1451497 2008 single work novel

It's a simple family story ... From the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to strip clubs, from the jungles of Thailand to a leaky boat in the Pacific, A Fraction of the Whole follows the Deans on their freewheeling, scathingly funny and deeply moving quest to leave their mark on the world.

'After an injury which cut short a golden sporting career, Jasper's uncle became Australia's most beloved murderer. After a lifetime of impossible ideas and a brief stint as the country's saviour, Jasper's father became Australia's most loathed philosopher. This is Jasper's attempt to make sense of it all. (Back cover and Libraries Australia)

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