Last Friday night the book industry celebrated its night of nights: The Australian Book Industry Awards (or ABIAs). It’s like the Oscars but for books! The evening was a celebration of the book in all its forms and those who make the Australian Book Industry one of the most diverse and vibrant in the world.
The guest of honour for the awards was the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott and Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
The major award of the evening, the Book of the Year award, went to All That I Am by Anna Funder (which also won Literary Fiction Book of the Year). All That I Am has already won the Indie Award this year and is shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. It tells the story of a group of friends in Germany in 1933 who are opposed to the rise of Nazism and must flee their country when Hitler comes to power. It is about friendship, betrayal, courage and fear. Anna showed us all what a fantastic writer she is with her non fiction book Stasiland about life under the East German Stasi and proves it again in spades with All That I Am. This will be a deserved winner of the Miles Franklin (if not a little controversial).
The Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Favel Parret whose debut novel Past The Shallows is also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award this year. I’m a huge fan of Favel’s book and she has got a big future ahead of her. Set inTasmania in the 1980s, this is the story of three brothers; Joe, Miles and Harry. Their mother was killed in a car accident when they were younger and their belligerent father takes his hard life out on his kids. The three brothers all try in one way or another to help the other cope but when the oldest brother Joe leaves town everything becomes untethered. Favel deftly captures the harshness and beauty of life at the edge ofAustralia and her writing will stay with you long after you put the book down.
Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay, a fantastic picture book won the Younger Children Book of the Year and Andy Griffiths won the Older Children category for The 13-Storey Treehouse.
Shearers Bookshop in Leichhardt won Independent Bookshop of the Year for the 2nd year in a row and Hill of Content in Balmain won the Chain/Franchise Bookshop of the Year. Readers in the inner west of Sydney are obviously extremely well served!
Allen & Unwin won Publisher of the Year and Text Publishing won Small Publisher of the Year. Both independently owned Australian publishers that shows how strong and important the local publishing scene is in Australia.