Yesterday, the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) revealed the 2017 best books of the year shortlist, and for first time, the fastest-growing book publishing segment in the world is acknowledged with an ABIA for Audiobook of the Year. Even more thrilling, causing my #aww2017 heart to skip a beat, all five candidates for The Australian Women’s Weekly General Fiction Book of the Year are women. In fact, out of the 60 nominations, 37 are for titles authored by women, with a few co-authored works on top of that. Winners will be announced at the 17th Annual ABIAs, a night celebrating the finest talent in the book industry, on 25 May at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, presented by the Australian Publishers Association (APA). Gold ABIA-winning author, actress and comedian, Magda Szubanski, will MC the ceremony.
The two categories I will personally be watching closely are:
The Australian Women’s Weekly General Fiction Book of the Year
• Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty, (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
• The Chocolate Tin, Fiona McIntosh, (Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House)
• The One Who Got Away, Caroline Overington, (HarperCollins, HarperCollins Publishers)
• The Dry, Jane Harper, (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
• The Birdman’s Wife, Melissa Ashley, (Affirm Press)
Literary Fiction Book of the Year
• The Good People, Hannah Kent, (Picador Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
• The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith, (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
• An Isolated Incident, Emily Maguire, (Picador Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
• Goodwood, Holly Throsby, (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
• Between a Wolf and a Dog, Georgia Blain, (Scribe Publications)
Books in these categories generally make up my favourites and I have read and loved six out of those ten nominations. The other four are on my list to buy! The nominated book I am perhaps most excited about is The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley. Not only is this an excellent novel, it is also a beautiful book, harking back to the days when hardcovers were released with a view towards becoming a part of a treasured book collection. In these days of paperbacks and ebooks, beautiful hardcovers are rare, so I truly hope some credit is bestowed upon Affirm Press, the publishing house for The Birdman’s Wife, for producing such a beautiful book.
Affirm Press have stated that they are ‘incredibly proud that Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife has made the Australian Book Industry Award’s shortlist for General Fiction Book of the Year. We did something a bit bold this year when we did our award entries for the ABIAs and decided not to enter the ‘Small Publisher’ award categories. We have always maintained that book-by-book we can compete with anyone, and it’s a mindset we encourage all our stakeholders to adapt. We also think that considering ourselves as a small publisher is a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas we want to be a big publisher but still retain the spirit and flexibility of a small one.’ I hope this pays off for them! My fingers will be crossed.
No matter who wins though, it is an occasion to celebrate the books Australians love and our thriving local book industry. A night that showcases the investment in Australian writers, the creation of culture, and the enhancement of our national literacy; I just wish that the night was televised in the same way The Logies and the ARIAs are. That would be TV even I would drag myself away from a book for!
The complete 2017 ABIA Shortlist can be found at ABIA 2017 Shortlist.
The 2017 ABIAs are presented by the APA, and are made possible with major sponsors Audible, The Australian Women’s Weekly, JC Decaux and Media Super with support from Avant Card, Booktopia, John Fisher Printing, Nielsen Bookscan and Simpsons Solicitors.
All information and images used in this article were done so with permission from ABIA Awards. Opinions expressed about individual books and the nominees are my own.
Affirm Press statement taken from their article located at: