Winners of the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards

What follows is a selection of the winners announced at last night’s awards ceremony.

ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2011


WINNER: Bereft

written by Chris Womersley, published by Scribe Publications

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

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

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice. Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE

Order a copy now.

Read Chris’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


WINNER OF THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL:

The Legacy

written by Kirsten Tranter, published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

What has happened to Ingrid?

Beautiful Ingrid, who leaves Australia, and her friends, and Ralph who loves her, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world.

There she becomes the stepmother to Gil′s teenage artist daughter Fleur, a former child prodigy, and studies ancient artefacts known as ′curse scrolls′ at Colombia University.

But at 9am on the morning of September 11, 2001, she has an appoitnment Downtown. And is never seen again.

Or is she?

Searching for clues about Ingrid’s life a year later, her friend Julia uncovers only further layers of mystery and deception.

Both an unputdownable mystery and a compelling meditation on the nature of art, truth, friendship and love, The Legacy announces the arrival of a major new talent.

Order your copy here

BESTSELLER IN THIS CATEGORY – That Deadman Danceby Kim Scott


ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2011

WINNER:

The Distant Hours

written by Kate Morton, published by Allen & Unwin

The discovery of a long-lost letter reveals an old secret and the truth behind a woman’s mysterious past in the best-selling new novel from international publishing sensation, Kate Morton, author of The Shifting Fog and The Forgotten Garden.

‘The suspense will have you turning the pages long into the night.’ Good Reading, 4 stars The Distant Hours is an engrossing tale full of secrets waiting to be told.’ Bookseller & Publisher, 4 stars Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.

Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of the 1918 children’s classic The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie’s mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance in 1941 plunged her into madness.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

 Order your copy here


WINNER OF THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL:

I Came to Say Goodbye

written by Caroline Overington, published by Random House Australia

Who is left behind when a family falls apart?

It was four o’clock in the morning.

A young woman pushed through the hospital doors.

Staff would later say they thought the woman was a new mother, returning to her child – and in a way, she was.

She walked into the nursery, where a baby girl lay sleeping. The infant didn’t wake when the woman placed her gently in the shopping bag she had brought with her. There is CCTV footage of what happened next, and most Australians would have seen it, either on the internet or the news.

The woman walked out to the car park, towards an old Corolla. For a moment, she held the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smelled her.

She then clipped the infant into the car, got in and drove off.

That is where the footage ends.

It isn’t where the story ends, however.

It’s not even where the story starts.

Read Caroline’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here

Order your copy here

BESTSELLER IN THIS CATEGORY – After America by John Birmingham


ABIA Newcomer of the Year (début writer) 2011


WINNER:

The Happiest Refugee

written by Anh Do  published by Allen & Unwin

The laugh-out-loud, reach-for-your-hanky story of one of Australia’s best-loved comedians.

Anh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.

Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was only nine – they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother’s sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.

Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. ‘Four,’ the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination – a big life with big dreams. Anh’s story will move and amuse all who read it.

Order your copy here


WINNER OF THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL:

The Bark Cutters

written by Nicole Alexander, published by Random House Australia

Sarah Gordon knows what she wants: the family homestead, Wangallon. When it comes to working the homestead she’s a natural but as a woman, it’s not her birthright. Even when her beloved brother, Cameron James, first born and heir, is killed in a tragic accident, nobody looks to Sarah to inherit.

Instead her grandfather passes management to the one man she truly loves. Feeling betrayed she runs away to Sydney to try to put Wangallon, behind her, but it’s in her blood. She is constantly drawn back to Wangallon but when will she finally admit that it’s not just Wangallon she longs for but the station’s manager, Anthony.

THE BARK CUTTERS is an Australian family saga that centres around the family property, Wangallon. Past and present interweave in a story that traces the Gordon family from the arrival of Scottish immigrant Hamish Gordon in Australia in the 1850’s to the life of his great granddaughter, Sarah, in the 1980’s. Full of action, romance, tragedy, family secrets and misunderstandings this novel has a bit of something for everyone but particularly the discerning commercial women’s fiction reader.

Read Nicole’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here

Order your copy here

BESTSELLER IN THIS CATEGORY - Poh’s Kitchen written by Poh Ling Yeow


ABIA Book of the Year 2011

WINNER:

The Happiest Refugee

written by Anh Do with Michael Visontay, published by Allen & Unwin

The laugh-out-loud, reach-for-your-hanky story of one of Australia’s best-loved comedians.

Anh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.

Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was only nine – they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother’s sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.

Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. ‘Four,’ the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination – a big life with big dreams. Anh’s story will move and amuse all who read it.

Order your copy here


WINNER OF THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL:

I Came to Say Goodbye

written by Caroline Overington, published by Random House Australia

Who is left behind when a family falls apart?

It was four o’clock in the morning.

A young woman pushed through the hospital doors.

Staff would later say they thought the woman was a new mother, returning to her child – and in a way, she was.

She walked into the nursery, where a baby girl lay sleeping. The infant didn’t wake when the woman placed her gently in the shopping bag she had brought with her. There is CCTV footage of what happened next, and most Australians would have seen it, either on the internet or the news.

The woman walked out to the car park, towards an old Corolla. For a moment, she held the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smelled her.

She then clipped the infant into the car, got in and drove off.

That is where the footage ends.

It isn’t where the story ends, however.

It’s not even where the story starts.

Read Caroline’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here

Order your copy here


RUNNER UP IN THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL:

The Family Law

written by Benjamin Law, published by Black Inc.

My family aren’t the outdoors type. Despite being raised on the coast, Mum detested visits to the beach (all the sand it brought into the house), while Dad disapproved of wearing thongs (‘It splits the toes’). We never camped. All those things involved in camping—pitching a tent; cooking on open fires; the insects; shitting in the woods; sleeping on rocks; getting murdered and raped in the middle of nowhere—they never appealed to us.

‘We were never camping people,’ Mum says now. ‘Your dad never wanted to camp, and insects eat me alive. See, Asians—we’re scared of dying. White people: they like to ‘live life to the full’, and ‘die happy.”

She pauses. ‘Asians are the opposite.’

We preferred theme parks.

Hilarious and moving, The Family Law is a linked series of tales from a born humorist – and a literary star in the making. Benjamin Law invites readers into the world of his endearing yet profoundly eccentric family. He constructs brilliantly turned essays in the style of David Sedaris, assembling a portrait that is both universal and utterly particular.

Why won’t his Chinese dad wear made-in-China underpants? Why was most of his extended family deported in the 1980s? Will Benjamin’s childhood dreams of Home and Away stardom come to nothing? What are his chances of finding love? Read one of these stories and you will inevitably want to read more.

Order your copy here

BESTSELLER IN THIS CATEGORY - How to Make Gravy written by Paul Kelly


ABIA Small Publisher of the Year 2011:
Scribe Publications (yay!)

ABIA Illustrated Book of the Year 2011:
Our Family Table by Julie Goodwin. Published by Random House Australia

ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children 2011:
Noni the Pony written and illustrated by Alison Lester. Published by Allen & Unwin

ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children 2011:
Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord. Published by Scholastic Australia

ABIA General Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2011:
True Spirit by Jessica Watson. Published by Hachette Australia

ABIA Biography of the Year 2011 – joint winners:
The Happiest Refugee  by Anh Do  and How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly

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