The 14th Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) shortlists were announced this morning in Sydney, with a raft of new categories and a host of wonderful writers and books.
The inaugural International Book of the Year award contains Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton and Pulitzer Prize winner Donna Tartt, while the hotly contested Literary Fiction Book of the Year has some extraordinary authors jostling for the gong with Tim Winton and Hannah Kent joined by favourite for the Miles Franklin Award Richard Flanagan.
If any of these books have passed you by, you still have time to be your own judge, with the winners to be announced on Friday 23 May!
International Book of the Year
Donna Tartt, author of the phenomenal bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend, returns with a breathtaking new novel.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
And the Mountains Echoed is a deeply moving new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another and how the choices we make resonate through history. A multi-generational family story revolving around brothers and sisters, it explores the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honour and sacrifice for each other.
With profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion – and moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos – Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction, which more than fulfils the promise of The Rehearsal. Like that novel, it is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device.
Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-twenties, and will confirm for critics and readers that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Jeff Kinney’s 8th book of this hilarious and highly successful series, and Greg Heffley and his friends now have a whole new set of adventures.
Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?
In 2009 Malala Yousafzai began writing an anonymous blog for BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. When her identity was discovered, Malala began to appear in Pakistani and international media, campaigning for education for all. On 9 October 2012, Malala was shot at point-blank range by a member of the Taliban on the way home from school. Remarkably, she survived. In April 2013, Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
I Am Malala tells the inspiring story of a schoolgirl who was determined not to be intimidated by extremists, and faced the Taliban with immense courage. Malala speaks of her continuing campaign for every girl’s right to an education, shining a light into the lives of those children who cannot attend school. This is just the beginning…
General Fiction Book of the Year
In 1881 ‘Big Jim’ Durham, an English soldier of fortune and profiteer, ruthlessly creates for Elianne Desmarais, his young French wife, the finest of the great sugar mills of the Southern Queensland cane fields, and names it in her honour.
The massive estate becomes a self-sufficient fortress, a cane-consuming monster and home to hundreds of workers, but ‘Elianne’ and its masters, the Durham Family, have dark and distant secrets; secrets that surface in the wildest and most inflammatory of times, the 1960s.
The workers leave the great sugar estates as mechanisation lessens the need for labour. And the Durham family, its secrets exposed, begins its fall from grace…
Marnie Logan often feels like she’s being watched. Nothing she can quite put her finger on – a whisper of breath on the back of her neck, or a shadow in the corner of her eye – and now her life is frozen. Her husband Daniel has been missing for more than a year. Depressed and increasingly desperate, she seeks the help of clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin.
Joe is concerned by Marnie’s reluctance to talk about the past, but then she discovers a book packed with pictures, interviews with friends, former teachers, old flames and workmates Daniel was preparing for Marnie’s birthday. It was supposed to be a celebration of her life. But it’s not the story anyone was expecting…
Cecilia Fitzpatrick, devoted mother, successful Tupperware business owner and efficient P&C President, has found a letter from her husband.
“For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, to be opened only in the event of my death”
But Cecilia’s husband isn’t dead, he’s on a business trip. And when she questions him about it on the phone, Cecilia senses something she hasn’t experienced before. John-Paul is lying. What happens next changes Cecilia’s formerly blissful suburban existence forever, and the consequences will be life-changing for the most unexpected people.
The year is 1546. Europe lives in fear of the powerful Islamic empire to the East. Under its charismatic Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, it is an empire on the rise. It has defeated Christian fleets. It has conquered Christian cities. Then the Sultan sends out an invitation to every king in Europe: send forth your champion to compete in a tournament unlike any other.
We follow the English delegation, selected by King Henry VIII himself, to the glittering city of Constantinople, where the most amazing tournament ever staged will take place. But when the stakes are this high, not everyone plays fair, and for our team of plucky English heroes, winning may not be the primary goal.
As barbaric murders occur, a more immediate goal might simply be staying alive.
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.
Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.
Literary Fiction Book of the Year
A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families. It is about class and sport and politics and migration and education.
It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. Barracuda is brutal, tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.
Tom Keely’s reputation is in ruins. And that’s the upside.
Divorced and unemployed, he’s lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he’s retired hurt and angry. He’s done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.
What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.
One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem. Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?
The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you’re least certain about. It introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait on the farm of District Officer Jón Jónsson and his family, who are horrified and avoid Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the summer months fall away to winter, Agnes’s story 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 freedom and the ways we will risk everything for love. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, and asks: how can one woman endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.
This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
General Nonfiction Book of the Year
The Good Life by Hugh Mackay
Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt
On the Trail of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope
Stalking Julia Gillard by Kerry-Anne Walsh
Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Ponting: At the Close of Play by Ricky Ponting
Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia’s Most Notorious Legend by Peter FitzSimons
The Crossroad by Mark Donaldson
Madness: A Memoir by Kate Richards
Everything to Live For by Turia Pitt with Libby Harkness
The Very Brave Bear by Nick Bland
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton
Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris by Kate Knapp
Alphabetical Sydney by Hilary Bell & Antonia Pesenti
Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester
The Kensington Reptilarium by NJ Gemmell
WeirDo by Anh Do
Alice-Miranda in Paris by Jacqueline Harvey
The Last Thirteen Book 1: 13 by James Phelan
Ranger’s Apprentice Book 12: The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan
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About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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