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The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist of the Year
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The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists Awards were started in 1997 to showcase emerging Australian writers.


2020 winner y separately published work icon Here Until August : Stories Josephine Rowe , Collingwood : Black Inc. , 2019 15891844 2019 selected work short story

'A masterful collection of horizons and departures, heartbreak and seduction, from an internationally acclaimed Australian author.

'These superbly crafted stories follow the fates of characters who, by choice or by force, are travelling beyond the boundaries of their known worlds. We meet them negotiating reluctant partings, navigating uncertain returns or biding the disquieting calm that often precedes decisive action.

'An agoraphobic French émigré watches disturbing terrorist footage as she minds a dog named Chavez. A young couple weather the interiority of a Montreal winter, more attuned to the illicit goings-on of their neighbours than to their own hazy, unfolding futures. A Melbourne writer of real-estate listings reflects on the stifling power of shared history as she wonders what life might be like over the fence. Other stories play out in places just beyond the brink of familiarity: flooded townships and distant lakes, sunlit woodlands or paths bright with ice, places of unpredictable access and spaces scrubbed from maps.

'From the Catskill Mountains to Snowy Mountains, the abandoned island outports of Newfoundland to the sprawl of an Australian metropolis, this scintillating collection from one of Australia’s most gifted writers shows us how the places we inhabit shape us in ways both remote and intimate.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2020 winner y separately published work icon Lucky Ticket Joey Bui , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2019 17064005 2019 selected work short story

'IN the comic-tragic story ‘Lucky Ticket’, the narrator, a genial disabled old man, sells lottery tickets on a street corner in bustling Saigon. In ‘Mekong Love’, two young people in a restrictive society find a way to consummate their relationship—in an extraordinary tropical landscape.

'In ‘Abu Dhabi Gently’, a story of dreams and disappointment, of camaraderie and disillusionment, a migrant worker leaves Vietnam to earn money in the UAE in order to be able to marry his fiancée. ‘White Washed’ depicts a strained friendship between two students in Melbourne, the Vietnamese narrator and a white girl.

'What does it mean to be Asian? What does it mean to be white? And what makes up identity? In Lucky Ticket, Joey Bui introduces a diverse range of characters, all with distinctive voices, and makes us think differently about mixed-race relationships, difficulties between family generations, war, dislocation and identity.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2020 winner y separately published work icon A Constant Hum Alice Bishop , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2019 15633442 2019 selected work short story

'Before the bushfires -- before the front of flames comes roaring over the hills -- the ridges are thick with gums.

'After the fires, the birds have gone. There is only grey ash and melted metal, the blackened husks of cars.

'And the lost people -- in temporary accommodation on the outskirts of the city, on the TV news in borrowed clothes, or remembered in flyers on a cafe wall.

'A Constant Hum grapples with the aftermath of disaster with an eye for telling detail. Some of these stories cut to the bone; others are empathetic stories of survival, even hope. All are gripping and beautifully written, heralding the arrival of an important new voice in literary fiction.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 winner Ruby Murray

for The Biographer’s Lover

2019 winner Robbie Arnott

for Flames

2019 winner Tom Lee

for Coach Fitz

2017 joint winner y separately published work icon A Loving, Faithful Animal Josephine Rowe , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2016 8994781 2016 single work novel

'Your father. His head is a ghost trap. It's all he can do to open his mouth without letting them all howl out. Even so, you can still see them, sliding around the dark behind his eyes …

'It is New Year's Eve, 1990, and Ru's father has disappeared again. Haunted by the horrors of the Vietnam War, Jack has been an erratic – and at times violent – presence in his family's life. Meanwhile, Ru's sister, Lani, is constantly fighting with their mother, both suffocated by the small country town where they live. And then there's Les, Jack's brother, destined to be on the periphery, but harbouring his own desires.

'As each of the five reckons with the past, what emerges is an incandescent portrait of one family forever scarred by war. Tender, brutal, and heart-stopping in its beauty, A Loving, Faithful Animal is a hypnotic novel by one of Australia's brightest talents.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2017 joint winner y separately published work icon Portable Curiosities Julie Koh , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2016 9186918 2016 selected work short story

'A biting collection of stories from a bold new voice. A young girl sees ghosts from her third eye, located where her belly button should be. A corporate lawyer feels increasingly disconnected from his job in a soulless 1200-storey skyscraper. And a one-dimensional yellow man steps out from a cinema screen in the hope of leading a three-dimensional life, but everyone around him is fixated only on the color of his skin. Welcome to Portable Curiosities. In these dark and often fantastical stories, Julie Koh combines absurd humour with searing critiques on modern society, proving herself to be one of Australia's most original and daring young writers.' (Publication summary)

2017 joint winner y separately published work icon Ruins Rajith Savanadasa , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2016 9188590 2016 single work novel

'In the bustling streets, overcrowded hospitals and glittering nightclubs of Colombo, five family members find their bonds stretched to breaking point in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war. Latha, the family's servant of two decades, questions her allegiances following the tragic death of her nephew ...Anoushka, a sixteen-year-old high-school student, tries to win back a friend while keeping her punk-rock credentials hidden from her parents ...Lakshmi, a proud matriarch, is haunted by images of missing boys while struggling with the selfish disregard of her own children ...Niranjan, recently returned from Australia, is ready to get his start-up off the ground but keeps getting distracted by stoner friends and petty squabbles ...And Mano, the head of the family, feels increasingly impotent under the pressure of government intimidation and his wife's scorn ...As the five leave Colombo to travel to an ancient city, the generations collide and long-held prejudices are revealed. For this family, with one foot in the old way of life and one firmly in the new, nothing can ever be what it once was.' (Publication summary)

2017 joint winner y separately published work icon Our Magic Hour Jennifer Down , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2016 9200478 2016 single work novel

'All night Audrey woke again and again, and every so often Nick would be awake, too, and their bodies would shift into new shapes, and once Nick reached for her as if in a panic, and once Audrey thumped to the kitchen half-awake and stuck her head under the tap to drink, and once she turned over to face Nick, who was open-eyed, and they began to kiss in a dream, bodies just coming to, and she saw the dull shadows from the streetlights pass over his face as he came, and he covered her body with his and she felt his breath in her hair, and they held each other, and the whole time they never said a thing.

'Audrey, Katy and Adam have been friends since high school—a decade of sneaky cigarettes, drunken misadventures on Melbourne backstreets, heart-to-hearts, in-jokes.

'But now Katy has gone. And without her, Audrey is thrown off balance: everything she thought she knew, everything she believed was true, is bent out of shape.

Audrey’s family—her neurotic mother, her wayward teenage brother, her uptight suburban sister—are likely to fall apart. Her boyfriend, Nick, tries to hold their relationship together. And Audrey, caught in the middle, needs to find a reason to keep going when everything around her suddenly seems wrong.

'Evocative and exquisitely written, Our Magic Hour is a story of love, loss and discovery. Jennifer Down’s remarkable debut novel captures that moment when being young and invincible gives way to being open and vulnerable, when one terrible act changes a life forever.' (Publication summary)

2016 joint winner y separately published work icon When There's Nowhere Else to Run Murray Middleton , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2015 8484816 2015 selected work short story

'In one way or another, isn't everyone on the run?

'A survivor of Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires takes asylum with old friends in the Dandenong Ranges. An editor-in-chief drives his sister halfway around the country to an east-coast rehabilitation clinic. A single mother flies to Perth with her autistic son for one last holiday. A father at the end of his tether tries to survive the chaos of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. A group of young friends hire a luxury beach house in the final weeks of one of their lives. A postman hits a pedestrian and drives off into the night.

'When There's Nowhere Else to Run is a collection of stories about people who find their lives unravelling. They are teachers, lawyers, nurses, firemen, chefs, gamblers, war veterans, hard drinkers, adulterers, widows and romantics. Seeking refuge all across the country, from the wheat belt of Western Australia, the limestone desert of South Australia, the sugarcane towns of Queensland, the hinterland of New South Wales to the coastline of Victoria, they discover that no matter how many thousands of kilometres they put between themselves and their transgressions, sometimes there's nowhere else to run. (Publication summary)

2016 joint winner y separately published work icon Hot Little Hands Abigail Ulman , Melbourne : Hamish Hamilton , 2015 8344068 2015 selected work short story

'This exceptional collection of stories is about young women of different ages, from their early teens to their late twenties, coming to terms with what it means to desire, and be desired, with funny, surprising and sometimes confronting results.

'Ulman first made her mark with the story Chagall's Wife in Meanjin; this collection shows that she's a young Australian writer to put alongside Ceridwen Dovey, Nam Le and Fiona McFarlane. ' (Publication summary)

2015 joint winner y separately published work icon Laurinda Alice Pung , Melbourne : Black Inc. , 2014 7951220 2014 single work novel young adult (taught in 1 units)

'When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway and the enormous sign in iron cursive letters spelling out LAURINDA. No 'Ladies College' after it, of course; the name was meant to speak for itself.

'Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its secret core is the Cabinet, a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates - and some of their teachers.

'Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the Cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.

'Funny, feisty and moving, Laurinda explores Lucy's struggle to stay true to herself as she finds her way in a new world of privilege and opportunity.' (Publication summary)

2015 joint winner y separately published work icon Here Come the Dogs Omar Musa , Docklands : Penguin Books , 2014 7456076 2014 single work novel

'In small-town suburban Australia, three young men from three different ethnic backgrounds--one Samoan, one Macedonian, one not sure--are ready to make their mark. Solomon is all charisma, authority, and charm, a failed basketball player down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family, and his homeland and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line? Solomon, Jimmy, and Aleks are way out on the fringe of Australia, looking for a way in. Hip hop, basketball, and graffiti give them a voice. Booze, women, and violence pass the time while they wait for their chance. Under the oppressive summer sun, their town has turned tinder-dry. All it'll take is a spark. As the surrounding hills roar with flames, the change storms in. But it's not what they were waiting for. It never is.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (New Press edition).

2015 joint 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)

2015 joint winner y separately published work icon Heat and Light Ellen van Neerven , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2014 7667260 2014 selected work short story fantasy (taught in 1 units)

'In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.'

'Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.'

'Heat and Light presents an intriguing collection while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.' (Publication summary)

2015 joint winner y separately published work icon The Tribe Michael Mohammed Ahmad , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2014 7186026 2014 selected work novella (taught in 5 units)

'The Tribe is a collection of three novellas portraying significant aspects in the life of an extended Muslim Lebanese-Australian family with its roots in the suburb of Lakemba in Western Sydney.The first novella describes the family house, and the three generations who live, often in some discord, in its rooms; the second explores the marriage of the boy’s uncle, and the threatened appearance of an estranged branch of the family at the ceremony. The third rounds off the circle, describing the death of the family matriarch, the boy’s grandmother. Together they offer an intimate insight into a community negotiating the conflict between tradition and modernity, and the complex tribal affiliations of the extended family.' (Publisher's blurb)

2014 joint winner y separately published work icon An Elegant Young Man Luke Carman , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2013 6591532 2013 selected work short story (taught in 6 units)

'For a long time Western Sydney has been the political flash-point of the nation, but it has been absent from Australian literature. Luke Carman’s first book of fiction is about to change all that: a collection of monologues and stories which tells it how it is on Australia’s cultural frontier. His young, self-conscious but determined hero navigates his way through the complications of his divorced family, and an often perilous social world, with its Fobs, Lebbbos, Greek, Serbs, Grubby Boys and scumbag Aussies, friends and enemies. He loves Whitman and Kerouac, Leonard Cohen and Henry Rollins, is awkward with girls, and has an invisible friend called Tom. His neighbour Wessam tells him he should write a book called How to Be Gay – and now he has. Carman’s style is packed with thought and energy: it captures the voices of the street, and conveys fear and anger, beauty and affection, with a restless intensity.' (Publisher's blurb)

2014 joint winner y separately published work icon Inheritance Balli Kaur Jaswal , Collingwood : Sleepers Publishing , 2013 11511141 2013 single work novel

'Set in Singapore between the early 1970's and 1990's, Inheritance follows the fissures that develop after the disappearance of teenage Amrit. Although her absence is brief, Amrit returns as a different person. As traditional Punjabis, the family struggles to cope with who Amrit is - her manic highs and lows, and her attempts to find solutions to a problem she doesn't fully understand. Narain, Amrit's brother and closest ally, also leads a secret life in order to avoid trouble with the government. But, although he knows his father is not proud, he is not ashamed of who he is. As the family awaits a transformation in Amrit, Singapore's political, social and cultural landscape rapidly changes, and while some in the family feel this as a loss, for some of them the future will be brighter - but it's a questions of whether the changes will arrive in time. With the traditional expectations of their country on the one hand, and their own volition on the other, how will this family avoid imploding? Inheritance is a universal story of family, identity and belonging.'

2014 joint 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 Majok Tulba for Beneath the Darkening Sky
2013 joint winner y separately published work icon Floundering Romy Ash , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012 Z1775186 2012 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'Tom and Jordy have been living with their gran since the day their mother, Loretta, left them on her doorstep and disappeared. Now Loretta's returned, and she wants her boys back.

'Tom and Jordy hit the road with Loretta in her beat-up car. The family of three journeys across the country, squabbling, bonding, searching and reconnecting. But Loretta isn't mother material. She's broke, unreliable, lost. And there's something else that's not quite right with this reunion.

'They reach the west coast and take refuge in a beachside caravan park. Their neighbour, a surly old man, warns the kids to stay away. But when Loretta disappears again the boys have no choice but to ask the old man for help, and now they face new threats and new fears.' (From the publisher's website.)

2013 joint winner Eleven Seasons Paul D. Carter , 2008 single work novel
— Appears in: Eleven Seasons 2008;
'"Some guys are good at school and telling jokes or they have the latest stuff. Others are cricketers and basketball players: they can do things with the ball that make their classmates talk about them when they're not around. His thing is football. He becomes the centre of whichever team he plays for: he becomes the advantage."

'MELBOURNE, 1985. Jason Dalton sits on his bed and counts his football cards, dreaming of the day he too is immortalised in the public eye. He's young and gifted, a natural player who can do anything with the ball in his hand. If only everything else in his life was as obvious to him as playing.

'GOLD COAST, 1991. The bottom has fallen out of Jason's life; he's now a high-school dropout, tired and wasted on the Gold Coast, with an explosive family secret still ringing in his ears. He needs to get his life back. But first he needs to find out who he is.' (From the publisher's website.)
2013 joint winner y separately published work icon Fishing for Tigers Emily Maguire , Sydney : Picador , 2012 Z1875618 2012 single work novel

'Six years ago, Mischa Reese left her abusive husband and suffocating life in California and reinvented herself in steamy, chaotic Hanoi. In Vietnam, she finds satisfying work and enjoys a life of relative luxury and personal freedom. Thirty-five and single, Mischa believes that romance and passion are for teenagers; a view with which her cynical, promiscuous expat friends agree.

'But then a friend introduces Mischa to his visiting eighteen-year-old son. Cal is a strikingly attractive Vietnamese-Australian boy, but he's resentful of his father, and of the nation which has stolen him away. His beauty and righteous idealism awaken something in Mischa and the two launch into an affair that threatens Mischa's friendships and reputation and challenges her sense of herself as unselfish and good.

'Set among the louche world of Hanoi's expatriate community, Fishing for Tigers is about a woman struggling with the morality of finding peace in a war-haunted city, personal fulfilment in the midst of poverty and sexual joy with a vulnerable youth.' (From the publisher's website.)

2013 joint winner y separately published work icon Running Dogs Ruby Murray , Brunswick : Scribe , 2012 Z1854087 2012 single work novel

'Jakarta, 1997, and the city is on the verge of a revolution.

'Even the Jordan children — Petra, Isaak and Paul — can feel it coming, shaking the edges of their privileged, protected expat world.

'Years later, Diana, an Australian development worker, moves to Jakarta and becomes entwined in the powerful Jordans' adult lives. As the monsoon descends, and the Jordans begin to fall apart, Diana sinks into the half-light of their past, where rumour and religion define the contours of the real, and the rules of the game change according to who is playing.

'Set in a global city of poverty, beauty, corruption and extreme wealth, Running Dogs is a novel about power and responsibility; about the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive, and the damage they can do.' (From the publisher's website.)

2013 joint winner y separately published work icon Beneath the Darkening Sky Majok Tulba , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2012 Z1871105 2012 single work novel When the rebels come to Obinna's village, they do more than wreak terror for one night. Lining the children up in the middle of the village, they measure them against the height of an AK-47. Those who are shorter than the gun are left behind. Those who are taller are taken. Obinna and his older brother Akot find themselves the rebel army's newest recruits. But while Akot almost willingly surrenders to the training, Obinna resists, determined not to be warped by the revolution's slogans and violence. In the face of his vicious captain's determination to break him, Obinna finds help in a soldier called Priest, and in the power of his own dreams. Beneath the Darkening Sky describes a life unimaginably different from our own, but one that is the experience of tens of thousands of child soldiers. Uncompromising, vivid and raw, it is an astonishing portrait of a mind trying to make sense of a senseless world' (Publisher website).

Majok Tulba talks about and reads from his book here.
2012 joint winner y separately published work icon The Roving Party Rohan Wilson , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2011 Z1775364 2011 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 5 units)

'1829, Tasmania.

'John Batman, ruthless, singleminded; four convicts, the youngest still only a stripling; Gould, a downtrodden farmhand; two free black trackers; and powerful, educated Black Bill, brought up from childhood as a white man. This is the roving party and their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, each is willing to risk his life for the prize.

'Passing over many miles of tortured country, the roving party searches for Aborigines, taking few prisoners and killing freely, Batman never abandoning the visceral intensity of his hunt. And all the while, Black Bill pursues his personal quarry, the much-feared warrior, Manalargena.

'A surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality, The Roving Party is a meditation on the intricacies of human nature at its most raw.' (From the publisher's website.)

2011 joint winner y separately published work icon Night Street Kristel Thornell , 2009 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2010 Z1624125 2009 single work novel historical fiction

'Night Street is the passionate story of a young painter, Clarice Beckett, who defies society's strict conventions and indifferent art critics alike and leads an intense private and professional life. With her extraordinary talent for making simple city and seascapes haunting and mysteriously revelatory, Clarice paints prolifically and lives largely, overcoming the seemingly confined existence as the spinster daughter in the parental home.

Night Street began with Thornell's first encounter with the paintings of Melbourne artist Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The subtle power of Clarice's highly atmospheric, enigmatic landscapes enabled her to imagine Clarice's inner life and shape an extraordinary novel.' (Publisher's blurb)

2011 joint winner y separately published work icon Having Cried Wolf Gretchen Shirm , Mulgrave : Affirm Press , 2010 Z1724642 2010 selected work short story (taught in 5 units)

'Small towns harbour secrets. Rising, receding and returning like the tides lapping the fictional coastal town of Kinsale, the stories in this collection revolve around Alice and Grace, friends since childhood, who grow to live vastly different lives.

Weaving in and around these women is a lattice of interconnecting stories drawing in their husbands, families, neighbours and strangers, each linked to one another by fate or circumstance. Having Cried Wolf is a contemplative and affecting collection - one that marks the arrival of an original literary talent.' (From the publisher's website.)

2011 joint winner y separately published work icon Utopian Man Lisa Lang , 2009 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2010 Z1624138 2009 single work novel historical fiction

'It's the 1880s and Marvellous Melbourne is a lavish and raucous city where anything could happen. Eccentric entrepreneur Edward William Cole is building the sprawling Cole's Book Arcade and filling it with whatever amuses him, or supports his favourite causes: a giant squid, a brass band, monkeys, a black man whose skin has turned white, a Chinese tea salon, and of course, hundreds of thousands of books.

'When Edward decides to marry he advertises for a wife in the newspaper, shocking and titillating the whole town. To everyone's surprise he marries his broadsheet bride and the Arcade grows into a monumental success.

'But the 1890s depression hits Melbourne - and Edward - hard, and the death of one of his children leaves him reeling. Grief, corruption and a beautiful, unscrupulous widow all threaten to derail his singular vision. But it's not until he visits Chinatown one night - and his own deeply suppressed past - that the idealist faces his toughest challenge.

'Utopian Man is the story of a man who lives life on his own terms, and leaves behind a remarkable legacy.' (Publisher's blurb)

2010 joint 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)

2010 joint winner y separately published work icon Smoke in the Room Emily Maguire , Sydney : Picador , 2009 Z1631617 2009 single work novel 'Summer, Sydney, and holed up in a tiny flat off Broadway are idealistic American Adam, weary activist Graeme, and wild, misunderstood Katie. Each is searching for answers to life's biggest questions - why are we here; what is love; what constitutes betrayal - and thrust together, over an intense two-week period, they begin to form answers. In doing so, they must first confront their darkest demons, both within and without...' (From the publisher's website.)
2010 joint winner y separately published work icon Document Z Andrew Croome , 2008 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009 Z1529256 2008 single work novel thriller

'On an electric night in 1954, Evdokia Petrov, a Russian intelligence worker from the Soviet Embassy in Canberra, arrives at Mascot Aerodrome as a prisoner of her colleagues. Her husband has defected. She is returning to Moscow where under Soviet law, she will be punished for his crime. A novel from the shadows, Document Z draws the story of the Petrov Affair from ASIO's archive of the event. It is a tale of lies and betrayal, the Cold War on Australian soil.'

Source: Allen & Unwin website,
Sighted: 15/09/2008

2010 joint winner y separately published work icon The Danger Game Enough : A Novel (Volume I) Kalinda Ashton , 2008 single work novel
— Appears in: Enough : A Novel (Volume I) 2008;

'"Sometimes the only way to manage the daily percolating drip of fear, the corrosive dread of debt and humiliation, is to embrace another sort of terror, to put oneself in danger."

'Alice and Louise are sisters united by a distant tragedy - the house fire their brother burnt to death in fourteen years ago. Alice teaches dirt-poor students at a state high school that the government wants to close while she pursues a tumultuouse relationship with a married man. Louse, a habitual liar and recovering heroin addict, has been playing "the danger game" since she was a child, and she can't stop. But when Louise decides to unravel the truth about her twin brother's death, and seeks out the mother that abandoned them, everything changes.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 joint 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)

2009 joint winner y separately published work icon The Landscape of Desire Kevin Rabalais , Carlton North : Scribe , 2008 Z1455895 2008 single work novel historical fiction

'Several months have passed since the legendary explorers Burke and Wills disappeared into the desert and their whereabouts remain a mystery. Now, a search party has assembled to rescue them. Meanwhile, two other men are wandering lost in the outback: one on the verge of reaching safety; the other, broken and trapped at the heart of the continent with an Aboriginal tribe as his only hope of survival. And back in the city an actress, star of the stage in Melbourne and Sydney, longs for the return of Burke and Wills for personal reasons that will only gradually become apparent.

'Loosely based on the ill-fated Burke and Wills Expedition, The Landscape of Desire re-imagines the lives of the key players in this historic event, and weaves them into a narrative that spans continents and decades.' (Publisher's blurb)

2009 joint winner y separately published work icon The Last Sky Alice Nelson , North Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 2008 Z1510842 2008 single work novel

'British rule is coming to an end and so is Maya’s marriage. She drifts, wandering aimlessly through the crowded city streets. Captivated by an elderly Chinese man and his caged nightingale, she follows him home. But Ken Tiger is a man with a past. As Maya draws out his tale of lost love in wartime Shanghai, she pieces together other stories, other histories that will help her to imagine a new life for herself.' (Synopsis)

2009 joint winner y separately published work icon The Boat Nam Le , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2008 Z1495449 2008 selected work short story (taught in 42 units)

'In the magnificent opening story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father's experiences in Vietnam - and what seems at first a satire on turning one's life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. "Cartagena" provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In "Meeting Elise" an ageing New York painter mourns his body's decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees where a young woman's bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.' (From the author's website.)

2008 joint winner y separately published work icon What Does Blue Feel Like? Jessica Davidson , Sydney : Pan Macmillan , 2007 Z1387109 2007 single work novel young adult

'Char is seventeen. She's in her last year of school. She's in a mess. She can't sleep, she can't eat. She feels... nothing. 

'As Char deals with her parents, her boyfriend Jim, her friends, parties, school work and end-of-year exams, we feel just what it's like to be seventeen and so unsure that the future is anything more than just a concept of time.

'A compelling verse novel from an exciting new voice in children's fiction. Confronting, realistic, funny and chilling, the kaleidoscopic emotions of a teenager on the edge are poignantly conveyed in powerful verses that weave in and out of Char's view of the world, and the views of those around her who watch, disturbed, helpless, as Char slowly loses herself.' (Synopsis)

2008 joint winner y separately published work icon A Curious Intimacy Jessica White , Camberwell : Viking , 2007 Z1345399 2007 single work novel historical fiction In the 1870s two remarkable women meet in a remote country town in Western Australia. Ingrid is a botanist, fiercely independent and travelling alone as she collects botanical specimens. Hundreds of miles from home, she tries to distance herself from a broken heart after her lover was forced to marry. Ingrid puts her own troubles aside on meeting Ellyn, a young woman living in stark isolation and driven close to madness by the death of her baby daughter. Ellyn's husband is away indefinitely, and she's had no word from him while the small community has turned its back on her because of her "unseemly" grieving. When the two women meet they forge a bond that grows ever deeper. But can their intimacy find acceptance in their conventional world?' - back cover
2008 joint winner y separately published work icon Company : A Novel Max Barry , New York (City) : Doubleday , 2006 Z1358474 2006 single work novel humour satire

'At Zephyr Holdings, no one has ever seen the CEO. The floors are numbered in reverse, the Mission Statement could mean almost anything, and the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else, but appears to do no work. One of the sales reps uses relationship books as sales manuals, and another is on the warpath because somebody stole his doughnut. In other words, it's a typical big company. Or at least, that's what everyone thinks, until fresh- faced employee Jones - too new to understand you just don't ask some questions - starts investigating. Soon Jones uncovers the company's secret: the answer to everything, what Zephyr Holdings really does, and why every manager carries a copy of the Omega Management System. It plunges him into a maelstrom of love, loyalty, management, and corporate immorality - and whether he can get out again. Now that's a good question. In the tradition of William Gibson, Joseph Heller, and Douglas Coupland, Company is a biting, incisive, and delightful satire of corporate culture.' (Publisher's blurb).

2008 joint winner y separately published work icon The River Baptists Belinda Castles , 2006 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2007 Z1308837 2006 single work novel

'Set in a small riverside community, The River Baptists tells the story of Rose, bunkered down in a borrowed house overlooking the river, grieving for her dead father and waiting for her baby to be born. It is also the story of Danny, another refugee from life elsewhere, hiding out from his violent father and dreaming of owning a block of land on the river. Then there are the river old-timers, who miss nothing and forget less, and a newcomer who cares nothing for the locals, or the secrets of the past. Set over the course of a long hot tense summer, when sparks constantly threaten to ignite bushfires, the tight-knit riverside community is set alight by confidences betrayed and a renewed age-old grudge.

'And through it all flows the mysterious pulse of the river, indifferent, deep and calm, offering the possibility of life and death, renewal and rebirth.' (Publisher's blurb)

2007 joint winner y separately published work icon Swallow the Air Dust on Waterglass Tara June Winch , 2003 St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2006 Z1265164 2003 selected work short story (taught in 33 units)

Swallow the Air follows the life of 15-year-old May Gibson, an Aboriginal girl from New South Wales whose mother commits suicide. May and her brother go to live with their aunt, but eventually May travels further afield, first to Redfern's Block in Sydney, then to the Northern Territory, and finally into central New South Wales. She travels to escape, but also in pursuit of a sense of her own history, family, and identity.

2007 joint winner y separately published work icon The Pilo Family Circus Will Elliott , Sydney : ABC Books , 2006 Z1254794 2006 single work novel horror fantasy (taught in 2 units)

Jamie is plunged into the horrific alternative universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between hell and earth from which humankind's greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place peopled by the gruesome, grotesque and monstrous, where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself - for when he applies the white paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead... (back cover)

2007 joint winner y separately published work icon Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls Danielle Wood , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2006 Z1311547 2006 selected work short story fable Author's note: These are not, I should say from the outset, tales written for the benefit of good and well-behaved girls who always stick to the path when they go to Grandma's...rather, these are tales for girls who have boots as stout as their hearts, and who are prepared to firmly lace them up (boots and hearts both) and step out into the wilds in search of what they desire. And since it cannot be expected that stout-booted, stout-hearted girls will grow up without misfortune or miscalculation of some kind, they require a reminder, from time to time, about the dangers that lurk both in dark forests and in the crevices of one's own imaginings.' - 'Not For Good Girls', frontmatter (signed Rose Little)
2006 joint winner y separately published work icon The Book Thief Markus Zusak , Sydney : Picador , 2005 Z1214315 2005 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 8 units)

'It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel's father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word - Kommunist - and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother's eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.'

[Source: Libraries Australia. Sighted 30/10/08]

2006 joint winner y separately published work icon Players Tony Wilson , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2005 Z1186137 2005 single work novel humour

''Tickets began to have qualms even in the instant that passed between the headbutt starting and the headbutt landing ..."

'Ex-Australian rules footballer Ian 'Tickets' Thompson is the bad boy darling of TV's top rating sports show, 'Leather and Lace'. The more offensive he is, the more the fans love him.

'But how will a million viewers, not to mention the police, react to his unprovoked assault on a homeless man? More to the point, what about his trigger-happy employer, media tycoon Sir Barry Haynes?

'To Billy Nock, fading champion, icon of fair play and host of the dismally rating rival football show, these are crucial questions. And when it starts to look like there's a scheme afoot to ensure Tickets gets away with it, Billy is spurred to action.

'Tony Wilson's wickedly funny first novel does for the world of sports media what TV close-ups did for the squirrel grip. Players will grab you from the very first page - and it won't let you go.' (Publication summary)

2006 joint winner y separately published work icon Rubdown Leigh Redhead , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2005 Z1204771 2005 single work novel crime detective

Simone Kirsch, P.I. has given up stripping and is trying to be straight. But she can never stay straight for long. Simone is hired by prominent lawyer Emery Wade, to find his wayward daughter Tamara. She's been taking drugs and working in the sex industry and Daddy fears a scandal that will affect not just his reputation, but that of her AFL-hotshot brother and his soap-star fiancee. When Simone finds Tamara dead the coroner says suicide. But Lulu, Tammy's best friend from the parlour, is convinced it's murder. Tangling with a drug dealer, a sleazy brothel owner and a bizarre love quadrangle with three coppers, time is running out for Simone to get to the bottom of it all before someone tries to keep her quiet too. A criminally witty romp on the sexy side of the mean streets.

- Publisher's blurb

2006 joint winner y separately published work icon The Singing Stephanie Bishop , Blackheath : Brandl and Schlesinger , 2005 Z1193940 2005 single work novel

'A love story bounded by the extremes of loss and desire, 'The Singing' tells the story of two people who fail each other in the ravages of illness. Years later they remain haunted by what they were unable to hold onto, and struggle to find a way to resolve the past.' (Synopsis)

2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Ash Rain Black Dream Corrie Hosking , Kent Town : Wakefield Press , 2004 Z1101663 2004 single work novel

'A bushfire in Dell's childhood still haunts her. She dreams up new starts, but her spilling stories cannot over-write the past.

'Evvie dances into Dell's life. She has run as far as she can from her family, but the ocean keeps calling her back.

'Evvie's daughter, Luce, is most at home in the company of creatures. All she wants is her collection of bugs and a guinea pig for Christmas.

'Dell meets Patrick in the pub, but he's going back to Scotland. Her life finally rupturing, Dell follows. She leaves a hole that Evvie and Luce struggle to fill. They must find each other again, without Dell. And Dell must discover how love works half a world away.

'Ash Rain explores the corners and crevices where love can grow in unexpected ways.' (Synopsis)

2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Wonderful Andrew Humphreys , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1092766 2004 single work novel humour

'Newsreels gave way to cartoon rabbits, theatre announcements and featured pictures, the ticker of the projector lighting the way through an empty sky. And there was Siggy, scene after scene, riding elephants and running from lions, laughing and jumping and swinging through the trees, smiling and kissing, wet lips puckered and arms open wide, his beautiful grey face filling the silver screen and dissolving into the white-hot light of the sun. 

'Jozsef Kiss, amateur Hungarian physician and animal trainer, arrives in Hollywood in the summer of 1931 with his African travelling companion, an orphaned chimpanzee. That chimpanzee becomes Siggy the Wonder Chimp, Jungle Man s faithful jungle companion, and a bona fide star.

'Wonderful is the story of a movie star monkey and his hapless, drunken partner. Complete with exploding coconuts and chimpanzee antics, it follows the adventures of a man and his animal sidekick as they encounter the strange and dusty landscape of California, agents and starlets, cowboys and elephants, the Depression and fascism, and the onset of the Second World War. It is a comic and sometimes sad emigrant s tale, a story of the invention and reinvention of people and nations, of history and of dreams. Above all, it is a story of loyalty, friendship and love.' (Synopsis)

2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Rhubarb Craig Silvey , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 2004 Z1114743 2004 single work novel A poignant and tender sort of love story about two damaged people tenuously connecting. Eleanor is blind and lives with her reclusive mother. Ewan is a cello player with agoraphobia. She is drawn to him through his music but cannot understand the difficulty he faces in forming a friendship. He does not understand her past nor the impact his music has on her. Amidst the heat of a Fremantle summer they stumble towards each other. (Source: Melbourne Library Service)
2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Drown Them in the Sea Nicholas Glen Angel , 2003 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1075420 2003 single work novel

'With dreams of moving to a house by the sea haunting their every day, Millvan and his wife, Michelle, owners of a riverside property in a small outback farming community, struggle with drought, friends, adversaries and the wrenchingly familiar rural cycle of hope and despair.

'Drown them in the Sea tells a compellingly honest story of the challenges and hardships of farming life in Australia. In vivid, vital language, Nicholas Angel captures both devastated landscape and human desire in this powerfully authentic evocation of life on the land.' (Synopsis)

2005 joint winner y separately published work icon Peepshow Leigh Redhead , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1142804 2004 single work novel detective A sassy, sexy and funny novel introducing Simone Kirsch (aka Vivien Leigh), stripper and PI, who is determined to find the real killer of strip club owner, Frank Parisi. (Source: Publisher's blurb)
2004 joint winner y separately published work icon Dying For Cake Louise Limerick , Sydney : Pan , 2003 Z1030953 2003 single work novel

'A Brisbane mother's coffee group is torn apart when newborn baby, Amy, disappears and her mother, Evelyn, broken and distant in a psychiatric hospital can't (or won't) tell anyone what has happened.

'Desperate to find Amy, and also to understand what has happened to Evelyn, the other women attempt to cope with the situation in their own way. But these circumstances have changed their lives irreversibly, and each woman begins to look for something to satiate the cravings that she had never allowed to surface before...

'Joanna is dying for cake. Clare is longing to paint again. Susan want's to claw back all the time she's lost. Wendy is trying to forget the past. And Evelyn? Well, nobody knows what Evelyn wants. But how can she not want her baby back?' (Synopsis)

2004 joint winner y separately published work icon How the Light Gets In M. J. Hyland , Camberwell : Penguin , 2003 Z1040089 2003 single work novel

'Lou Connor, a precocious, gifted, and unhappy sixteen-year-old, is offered a place as an exchange student in the United States, something that she hopes will take her far away from her bleak life of poverty in Sydney, Australia. Having endured a childhood with an emotionally crass, deadbeat family, she welcomes the opportunity to live the middle-class life she has long dreamed of. But soon after she moves in with her host family, the Hardings - who live in a prefabricated mansion in a nameless Chicago suburb - Lou's acute need for acceptance and love runs up against the Hardings' suffocating pursuit of a particular form of suburban perfection. How the Light Gets In is a portrait of a girl on the verge of adulthood whose world - like Holden Caulfield's before her - is full of mixed messages.' (Synopsis)

2004 joint winner y separately published work icon The Lambing Flat Nerida Newton , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2003 Z983616 2003 single work novel
2004 joint winner y separately published work icon The Snow Queen : A Novel Mardi McConnochie , Pymble : Flamingo , 2003 Z1026114 2003 single work novel historical fiction

'This beautiful fable-like story ranges from the rigid routines of the Imperial Dancers in pre-revolutionary Russia to exile in Australia at the outbreak of World War two. Russian-born Galina, who has danced for the tsar and for Diaghilev's famous ballet in Paris, operates a highly disciplined dance school - an outpost of Imperial Russia - in the dusty Adelaide of the 1940s and 1950s. From this humble base she goes on to form what becomes Australia's first professional ballet troupe. traveling the country it attracts a beautiful, talented young man. these two enact the story of the snow queen - the stern, beautiful woman who picks out a boy for herself, piercing his heart with a spike of ice, only to have her own pierced cruelly in return.' (Synopsis)

2004 joint winner y separately published work icon Scarecrow Matthew Reilly , Sydney : Macmillan , 2003 Z1070440 2003 single work novel thriller


There are 15 targets, the finest warriors

in the world - commandos, spies, terrorists.

And they must all be dead by 12 noon, today.

The price on their heads: almost $20 million each.


Among the names on the target list, one stands

out. An enigmatic Marine named Shane Schofield,

call-sign: Scarecrow.


And so Schofield is plunged into a headlong race

around the world, pursued by a fearsome

collection of international bounty hunters -

including the 'Black Knight', a notoriously

ruthless hunter who seems intent on eliminating

only Schofield.

'The race is on and the pace is frantic as Schofield

fights for survival, in the process unveiling a

vast international conspiracy and the terrible

reason why he cannot, under any circumstances,

be allowed to live...

'He led his men into hell in Ice Station.

He protected the President against all odds in Area 7.

This time it's different.

'Because this time SCARECROW is the target.' (Publication summary)

2004 joint winner y separately published work icon The Alphabet of Light and Dark Danielle Wood , 2002 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2003 Z980994 2002 single work novel

'A tiny coin found inside a Cloudy Bay oyster, a postcard of a white-haired child leaning against a beached dinghy and a coconut peeled and carved once upon a time on the Batavian coast. These trinkets, found in a sea chest, and the fragmented memories of her grandfather's tall tales are all Essie Lewis has left of her family history.

'After her grandfather's death, Essie returns to Bruny Island, Tasmania and to the lighthouse where her great-great-grandfather kept watch for nearly 40 years. Beneath the lighthouse, she begins to write the stories of her ancestors. But the island is also home to Pete Shelverton, a sculptor who hunts feral cats to make his own peace with the past. And as Essie writes, she finds that Pete is a part of the history she can never escape.' (Synopsis)

2003 joint winner y separately published work icon Skins Sarah Hay , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2002 Z912135 2002 single work novel historical fiction

'Shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1835, Dorothea Newell is marooned on Middle Island with other survivors. Stranded, they seek shelter in a sealers' camp. The desolate environment of the island camp is a place where men from all corners of the globe struggle to trade seal skins, and the appearance of women-rare commodities in that place and time-opens a further form of trade. As a desperate means of survival, Dorothea is forced into an alliance with the camp's fierce leader, John Anderson.

'Skins is the compelling story of Dorothea's emotional and physical journey back to civilisation. Featuring an immense, wild landscape of ocean and islands untainted by human existence, Sarah Hay writes a remarkable tale of people who have fallen through the gaps of recorded history.' (Synopsis)

2003 joint winner y separately published work icon Father Lands Emily Ballou , Sydney : Picador , 2002 Z995471 2002 single work novel

'The world of eight-year-old Cherry Laurel is an intensely sensual one - of cold noses, burning autumn leaves, changes of heart, childhood, nationhood . . . and betrayal. Her mother Bell and her father Jackson are failing to cope with the catastrophe of domestic life.

'And now Cherry has been volunteered for a "historical experiment". Milwaukee's notoriously racially segregated public school system is to pursue an active policy of Integration. Cherry and her younger sister are bussed in, unaware that the shame of white America awaits them.

'Meanwhile, during the autumn of that upsidedown year, her parents' marriage falls to pieces. Jackson leaves his wife and kids to endure winter's blizzards, while Cherry's only school friend, the wistful Hugo, haunted by family tragedy, is determined to find his own lost father. His momma Macy just wants to hold it all together . . .' (Synopsis)

2003 joint winner y separately published work icon A Child's Book of True Crime Chloe Hooper , New York (City) : Scribner , 2002 Z945071 2002 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

'Kate Byrne is having an affair with the father of her most gifted pupil, Lucien. Unnervingly, her lover's wife has just published Murder at Black Swan Point, a true crime novel about the brutal slaying of a young adulteress. Suspecting the adult account of Black Swan Point's murder to be wrong, Kate imagines her own version of the novel, for children, narrated by Australian animals. But has her obsession with the crime aligned her fate with that of the murdered adulteress?

'Compelled by the lives of her nine-year-old students, Kate is a misfit among their parents. And though, in scenes of escalating eroticism, Lucien's father brings her to life sexually, he does nothing to penetrate her obsession with the past. Kate is fixated on the crime of passion that occurred years earlier, less and less aware of her own reputation in the present.' (Synopsis)

2003 joint 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 joint winner y separately published work icon The Weight of the Sun Andrew Humphreys , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2001 Z826329 2001 single work novel

'James Bloomington is prone to nose bleeds, sweating fits and excessive formality. Very few people find this in any way endearing. His father having disappeared, quite literally, before his second birthday, James has been raised by his mother, Veronica, a woman known and feared for her beauty and her fondness for the STSC-720 N95 line of disposable particulate respirators. Working as a junior editor for legal publishers Sandler and Harris, James has arranged his solitary life according to his own peculiar standards of conduct and, more importantly, order. But when Veronica discovers an apparently homeless man sitting in a city lane who may or may not look like her son in 10 years time, James Bloomington's sense of his own identity is called into question and his life begins to unravel around him. As the relentless summer sun bears down, James is forced to deal with the man in the lane, his hyperactive boss's infatuation for his mother, his own infatuation for his boss's daughter, an amorous, possibly Italian landlady, an aggressive leprechaun, public masturbators, self-improving Nazis, a well-kept hedge, and a mysterious telephone booth that seems to know his every hidden desire.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2002 joint winner y separately published work icon The Artist Is a Thief Stephen Gray , Australia : Allen and Unwin , 2001 Z800291 2001 single work novel detective

'Margaret Thatcher Gandarrwuy is an internationally renowned Aboriginal artist from the remote Mission Hole community in the Northern Territory. Her works command high prices - until a new painting is unveiled. It is discovered slashed, with the words hastily scrawled across it, 'The artist is a thief'. Is the artist a thief? Is she to blame, or is she the victim of somebody else's fraud?

'This is a philosophical detective novel with a difference, set in a world where everyone but the 'detective' knows the rules. Jean-Loup Wild, a Melbourne financial consultant sent by ATSIC to Mission Hole, is caught between the art world, with its wealth, fashions, heroes and sophisticated private language, and the Aboriginal community with its poverty, social problems, kinship ties and unchanging traditional law. If Jean-Loup can find the artist he can begin to find the secret of what has been happening at Mission Hole. He can begin, also, to understand how the layers of that mystery lie deep in the bedrock of Australian society.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2002 joint winner y separately published work icon Willow Tree and Olive Irini Savvides , Sydney : Hodder Headline Australia , 2001 Z919810 2001 single work novel young adult 'Willow Tree and Olive tracks the journey of an Australian girl of Greek extraction, called Olive, in her final year of school. Like any adolescent, Olive is trying to deal with friends, teachers and family, while also trying to reconcile her Greek heritage with contemporary Australian culture. The usual tumultuous complexities of a multicultural adolescence are further complicated for Olive when a long suppressed trauma leads to a major life crisis.' (From the Catholic Weekly, 9 September 2001)
2002 joint winner y separately published work icon What Falls Away Tegan Bennett Daylight , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 2001 Z795249 2001 single work novel

''Each day one of them, both of them, added something more to the silence. Carefully, slowly, patiently, they were building a great structure out of it, an intricate structure. Mary participated in the work but wondered, sometimes, if they would have the skill and the tools to dismantle it. It was beginning to block doorways in their own house, to climb up towards the windows, to reach into the garden.'

'Mary doesn't quite know what's changed since the birth of her first child, but she and Sean don't talk any more. While Sean simply shuts down, hoping things will fix themselves, Mary turns to Juliet, her best friend, for comfort.

'What Falls Away is an astutely observed, intricately fascinating exploration of the ways in which-sometimes without even noticing-we let silence take over our lives.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2001 joint winner y separately published work icon Summerland Malcolm Knox , Milsons Point : Random House Australia , 2000 Z375736 2000 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'They were society's golden ones, endowed with the privileges of youth and wealth, bred to live in a world of limitless possibility, but none of this could save them from self-destruction.

'Richard sits on the shores of Sydney Harbour, a hollowed out man remembering a lost paradise as he recounts the years he shared with his best friend, the charismatic heir Hugh Bowman. Gliding through a life of endless luxury and ease, they formed a charmed quartet with their childhood sweethearts, Helen and Pup.

'As adults they married and continued their tradition of summer holidays at Palm Beach, giving every appearance of leading charmed and immaculate lives. Like those beautiful people in magazines, their skin was unblemished, their smiles dazzling, the lighting just so. But as Richard confronts his memories what seemed so idyllic is revealed as a sinister drama of secrets, lies and betrayals.

'A masterful and compelling dissection of friendship, morality and society from a startling new talent.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2001 joint winner y separately published work icon Thursday's Child Sonya Hartnett , Ringwood New York (City) : Penguin , 2000 Z540722 2000 single work novel young adult (taught in 1 units) The creature held a great bundle of something tied up in a rag. For a moment we stared, not recognising him, but who else could it have been, who else but wandering Tin. We saw his naked limbs, his waxy skin, his discoloured hair, his hooking razor-sharp nails. He raised lashy eyes to us and we saw a face on its way to another world. Da murmured, "Jesus." Through the long years of the Great Depression, Harper Flute watches with a child's clear eyes her family's struggle to survive in a hot and impoverished landscape. As life on the surface grows harsher, her brother Tin escapes ever deeper into a subterranean world of darkness and troubling secrets, until his memory becomes a myth barely whispered around the countryside. (Source: Trove)
2001 joint winner y separately published work icon Vixen Hoa Pham , Sydney : Hodder Headline , 2000 Z28872 2000 single work novel fantasy 'Civil unrest forces the fox fairy to flee from Vietnam to the land of "the new gold mountain" - Australia. She is a spirit able to take the form of a woman or a fox at will. Vixen is her story - from the Imperial Citadel and country Vietnam to Melbourne suburbs and the Ballarat bush where spirits are everywhere'. Source: author's website.
2001 joint winner y separately published work icon Vixen Hoa Pham , Sydney : Hodder Headline , 2000 Z28872 2000 single work novel fantasy 'Civil unrest forces the fox fairy to flee from Vietnam to the land of "the new gold mountain" - Australia. She is a spirit able to take the form of a woman or a fox at will. Vixen is her story - from the Imperial Citadel and country Vietnam to Melbourne suburbs and the Ballarat bush where spirits are everywhere'. Source: author's website.
2000 joint winner y separately published work icon The Hunter Julia Leigh , Ringwood : Penguin , 1999 Z129151 1999 single work novel (taught in 23 units)

'An unnamed man, M, arrives at a remote house on the fringe of a vast wilderness and soon disappears into a world of silence and stillness. His one mission: to find the last thylacine, the fabled Tasmanian tiger. She is said to have passed into myth but a sighting has been reported... Uncompromising and compelling, Julia Leigh's stunning first novel does not give up any of its secrets easily. The Hunter is a haunting tale of obsession that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.'

Source: Libraries Australia (Sighted 18/03/2011).

'While on his mission, the hunter lodges with a grief-ridden family of outcasts whose father has mysteriously vanished after sighting the Thylacine. The hunter succumbs more than he'd like to the family's scant charms and when tragedy strikes has to further purge his psyche to focus upon his elusive quarry. There is something tantalizing at large here as well as the mythical beast in this soul-stalking story about a group of doomed creatures whose unfortunate extinction is never really in doubt.' - Reviewed by Chris Packham, naturalist and broadcaster

Source: British Union Catalogue (Sighted 14/10/2011)

2000 joint winner y separately published work icon The Deep Field James Bradley , Sydney : Sceptre , 1999 Z129050 1999 single work novel science fiction 'The Deep Field introduces us to a brilliant young photographer named Anna Frazier, whose latest project is a photographic study of shell fossils called ammonites. At a museum in Sydney she meets Seth La Marque, a blind paleontologist who senses that Anna is hiding something from her past that has wounded her and made her shut down her emotions. Slowly, as they become friends and then lovers, Anna reveals her tumultuous and obsessive love affair with a Hong Kong-based financier [...] that left her drained and empty. At the same time, her twin brother, Daniel, disappeared in China during a period of incredible upheaval and chaos, and Anna feels her life is on hold until she can find him'. Source: bookseller's website.
1999 winner y separately published work icon Mrs Feather and the Aesthetics of Survival Lisa Merrifield , Pymble : Flamingo , 1998 Z517087 1998 single work novel humour Over long nights and haute cuisine the history of the world unfurls before the watchful eyes of Mrs Feather and her young companion, David. Mrs Feather, however, may not be all that she appears to be. As David consumes Mrs Feather's lovingly prepared meals, so her world begins to consume him. (Libraries Australia summary)
1999 joint winner y separately published work icon Closed for Winter Georgia Blain , Ringwood : Penguin , 1998 Z201164 1998 single work novel

'Twenty years have passed since that day on the jetty but it is only now that Elise has found the strength to go back and face the events of her past. And so she begins to unravel all that has been tying her up, picking through that day, piece by piece, from beginning to end. Over and over again.

'But sometimes what you uncover is not what you were searching for, and Elise finds herself face to face with a truth she had not expected.

'Closed for Winter is a gripping novel that will haunt you to the very end, and a powerful, positive story about the pain of letting go.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (2012 reprint).

1999 joint winner y separately published work icon Snowdome Bernard Cohen , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1998 Z241257 1998 single work novel

'Snowdome is a tale of two histories. It is the present. Tinnitus is the spirit of the age. William comes home, flicks the radio on, turns it up. His head is full of noise.' William and his friends live in Sydney, a mumbling city. They think about the future, and thinking hurts.

'It is the future. Sydney has been emptied out by economic forces and re-opened as a museum. The museum guide's task is to describe the city's history to tourists. He can no longer tell is that history is true or if he has made it up. He hears the firmness in his voice on the cassette tapes and he keeps his doubts to himself.' (Publisher's blurb)

1999 joint winner y separately published work icon The Indestructible Corpse Raimondo Cortese , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 1998 Z194122 1998 selected work short story

'In The Indestructible Corpse Raimondo Cortese creates imaginary histories and speculative worlds in which he explores love and war, dreams and sex, good and evil. Travellers, lovers, mystics and mad people roam through his stories. Often funny, and dazzlingly conceived, The Indestructible Corpse introduces an irresistible new writer of fiction.' (Synopsis)

1999 joint winner y separately published work icon Perverse Acts Camilla Nelson , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 1998 Z192926 1998 single work novel satire The government is keen to defend its narrow majority and deliver on its key policies. Family values. The freedom from Government Bill. The Get Rich Quick Taxation Scheme. And Lucretia, the only female member of the government, is on a quest of her own. Telling their stories in turn, Venus and M describe a world of sex, power and ruthless manipulation. But in the claustrophobic atmosphere of Parliament House, Canberra, in the Republic of Australia, the big picture is starting to fall apart. The newspapers are full of scandal. The party is broke. And M can see his dreams slipping away. (Back cover).
1999 joint 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)

1998 joint winner y separately published work icon Wrack James Bradley , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 1997 Z317165 1997 single work novel While searching for the wreck of a Portuguese ship which could rewrite the history of Australia, archaeologist David Norfolk stumbles upon a corpse buried fifty years before. Determined to understand its connection to the ship, David uncovers a story of obsession, secrets and sexual passion (Source: Publisher's description).
1998 joint winner y separately published work icon Candy Luke Davies , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1997 Z253307 1997 single work novel (taught in 4 units) He met Candy during a lush Sydney summer. Gorgeous, sexy, free-spirited Candy. They fell in love fast, lots of laughter and lust, the days melting warmly into each other. He never planned to give her a habit. But she wanted a taste. And wasn't love, after all, about sharing lives? But when the money ran out, the craving remained, and the days ceased their luxurious stretch. But there was still love. Only now, it was a threesome. Heroin had its own demands, its own timetable, and thoughts of nabbing the next fix hurled them into each day. Then, when desperation set in, Candy would stop at nothing to secure a blast, as she and her love became hostage to the nightmarish world of addiction. (Source: Trove)
1998 joint winner y separately published work icon The Blindman's Hat Bernard Cohen , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1997 Z236828 1997 single work novel 'Vernon is an expatriate Australian journalist working in Manhattan for a quality New York daily and Dida is a freelance mobile telephone technician. Muffy is their little white dog, and the world's cutest urban philosopher. When Vernon falls so deeply in love with Dida he stops going to work to be with her, they could not have predicted his former employers would ask, plead, beg, threaten, kidnap and probably even murder to convince Vernon to return to the workplace.

Vernon, Dida and Muffy determine to get to the bottom of all this. They search through dodgy Wall Street transactions, oppressive correspondence, muffled answering machine messages and undertake good twin/bad twin routines and failed hypnotherapy in their search for the truth. In the rare quiet moments, Vernon worries about his dwindling Australianness.

The Blindman's Hat is Paul Auster with added exuberant silliness, Sara Paretsky stuffed full of red herrings, and Herge overcome by lust.' (Publisher's blurb)
1998 joint winner y separately published work icon The Service of Clouds Delia Falconer , Sydney : Picador , 1997 Z406749 1997 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 1 units) The Blue Mountains of Australia. Eureka Jones, a young pharmacist's assistant with 'historical eyes', falls in love with Harry Kitchings, a man who comes to town from some vague elsewhere to photograph clouds and the shadows they cast upon the land.
1998 joint winner y separately published work icon Capital Volume One Anthony Macris , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1997 Z225666 1997 single work novel

'In a London Underground station during the build-up to peak hour: a penniless tourist, hefting an enormous backpack, is almost pushed off the crowded platform; an elderly woman craves a cigarette while staring at a government health warning; a pregnant mouse struggles to escape an oncoming train. In the tropical heat of suburban Brisbane: a lone schoolboy has a disconcerting experience while watching a film in a multiplex; three office workers mercilessly taunt a colleague; a father discusses with his young sons the morality of Stalin's starvation of the peasantry.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (2013 ed.)

1998 joint winner y separately published work icon A Race across Burning Soil Clare Mendes , Pymble : Flamingo , 1997 Z69358 1997 single work novel An Australian classic in the making, A Race Across Burning Soil is the story of Patrick and Sheila, inhabitants of Violet Town, a bush settlement. We follow these two, in their own voices, through the decades of their lives. From Patrick's first youthful affection for his fellow student and tutor, Sheila, and her complete antagonism towards him, through their respective separate adult lives. Patrick grows from the gawky, love-addled adolescent into a fine young man. Sheila moves to Melbourne and becomes a great success story. During her adulthood, Sheila comes, finally, to rely on Patrick and to realise the love he has for her. She tries to reciprocate but cannot, trapped within her growing madness. HarperCollins Media Release
1998 joint winner y separately published work icon The Illustrated Family Doctor David Snell , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 1997 Z397818 1997 single work novel humour
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Deadset Emma Tom , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 1997 Z399944 1997 single work novel
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Tourism Bernard Cohen , Chippendale : Picador , 1992 Z532028 1992 single work novel Vignettes describing different places around Australia.
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon The Lulu Magnet Matthew Condon , Milsons Point : Random House , 1996 Z528885 1996 selected work short story prose biography humour
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon The Mule's Foal Fotini Epanomitis , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1993 Z922775 1993 single work novel

'In one despairing moment Theodosios abandons his wife and gorilla child and then spends a lifetime trying to get them back. But what's a lifetime in a place like this?

'One minute you're a woman. The next you're a bear. There's a woman here who is neither man nor woman. And a man who's both man and beast.

'Here nothing belongs to you - not even your grief. People steal your letters and gossip your thoughts before you've spoken them. And when they're desperate - and at some point everyone is desperate - they go to the whorehouse. . . From the centre of chaos, Mirella, the ancient whore, finds a calm place to tell this unforgettable, timeless tale.' (Publication summary)

1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Dirt and Other Stories Catherine Ford , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 1996 Z227716 1996 selected work short story
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon 1988 Andrew McGahan , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1995 Z77695 1995 single work novel (taught in 4 units) 'It's the Bicentennial year and for Gorden - failed writer and bottleshop boy - it seems his life is going nowhere. It's time to escape. From his overcrowded house, from Brisbane, from Expo '88, from everything. He stumbles into Wayne who has connections in Darwin and the promise of work. So the two of them head north towards swamps and crocodiles and sandflies innumerable, in search of inspiration, and of their rightful place in the culture of a nation.' (from back cover)
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Suck My Toes Fiona McGregor , Ringwood : McPhee Gribble , 1994 Z327618 1994 selected work short story
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon The Grass Sister Gillian Mears , Milsons Point : Random House , 1995 Z565545 1995 single work novel
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Mood Indigo Mandy Sayer , North Sydney : Allen and Unwin , 1990 Z372437 1990 single work novel This novel and its sequel Blind Luck (1993) trace the misfortunes of the Partridge family - a drug-addicted musician husband and father, an alcoholic wife and mother and three children.
1997 joint winner y separately published work icon Loaded Christos Tsiolkas , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 1995 Z565443 1995 single work novel (taught in 40 units)

'Families can detonate. Some families are torn apart forever by one small act, one solitary mistake. In my family it was a series of small explosions; consistent, passionate, pathetic. Cruel words, crude threats... We spurred each other on till we reached a crescendo of pain and we retired exhausted to our rooms, in tears or in fury.

'Ari is nineteen, unemployed and a poofter who doesn't want to be gay. He is looking for something - anything - to take him away from his aimless existence in suburban Melbourne. He doesn't believe in anyone or anything, except the power of music. All he wants to do is dance, take drugs, have sex and change the world.

'For Ari, all the orthodoxies of family, sex, politics and work have collapsed. Caught between the traditional Greek world of his parents and friends and the alluring, destructive world of clubs, chemicals and anonymous sex, all Ari can do is ease his pain in the only ways he knows how.

'Written in stark, uncompromising prose, Loaded is a first novel of great passion and power.' (From the publisher's website.)

1997 joint winner y separately published work icon The Crocodile Fury Beth Yahp , Pymble : Angus and Robertson , 1992 Z89263 1992 single work novel fantasy 'Set in a convent school on a jungle-covered hill on the outskirts of a Southeast Asian city, The Crocodile Fury follows the fortunes of three generations: the grandmother who was a bonded servant when the convent was a rich man's mansion; the mother who works each day in the convent laundry; and the girl who tells the story.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.