BOOK NEWS: the ABIAs, Reading Hour, Byron Writers Fest, and more!

by |May 8, 2019

What. A. Week.

I don’t know about you, but I’m utterly exhausted. Last week, Sydney Writers’ Festival happened (I interviewed Sarah Perry!!!), we had six authors come in for book signings, and the ABIAs (essentially the Oscars of book publishing) were held last Thursday night.

(Friday morning was rough and there were many casualties.)

But that’s enough griping from me – let’s get into what else has been happening in the last week in the world of books…


The Australian Book Industry Awards were held last week…

…and Trent Dalton basically won the whole thing. Big time.

The debut author of the magical coming-of-age novel Boy Swallows Universe took home a record breaking 4 ABIAs, for Book of the Year, Literary Fiction Book of the Year, Audiobook of the Year, AND the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year. This is one hell of an achievement and we couldn’t be happier for Trent.

Other big winners included Holly Ringland (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart), Bri Lee (Eggshell Skull), Jeremy Lachlan (Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds), and many many more.

Booktopia also won National Book Retailer of the Year, and we’re quite chuffed about that.

Read our write-up of the ABIAs right here.

Australian Book Industry Awards
Award winner Trent Dalton (centre) flanked by the Booktopia team.

Australian Reading Hour is back for 2019!

What are you doing on September 19? I know what I’ll be doing: participating in Australian Reading Hour (otherwise known as my regular lunch break).

Australian Reading Hour wants to get Australia reading again by encouraging everyone to take an hour out of their day on September 19 for uninterrupted reading time. You can do it any time on that day and you can read any book you like – just as long as you read something!

The Australian Reading Hour ambassadors for this year have also been announced – Rachael Johns, Benjamin Law, Sally Rippin, Matt Stanton, Karen Manbulloo, and Anthony Field will all be getting behind this awesome campaign.

You can make the pledge to sign up for Australian Reading Hour here.

Byron Writers Festival announces its first line-up

Move over Sydney, it’s Byron Bay’s turn for a killer festival (and no, I don’t meant Splendour in the Grass).

A stellar line-up of authors has been announced for the Byron Writers Festival, Australia’s largest regional celebration of storytelling, literature and ideas.

Behrouz Boochani, Damon Gameau, Benjamin Law, Min Jin Lee, Alison Lester, Sisonke Msimang, Bruce Pascoe, Leigh Sales, Tara June Winch, and Markus Zusak will all be in attendance, with many more authors to be announced soon.

The Festival will be taking place on 2-4 August later this year. Early Bird 3-Day Passes will be on sale for one week only from 8 – 14 May, with the full program to be announced on 12 June (when General Sale tickets will be available).

For more info on this stellar event, click here.

Byron Writers Festival

The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists Award winners announced for 2019

2019 has a whole new crop of Best Young Australian Novelists.

The winners of this annual award from the Sydney Morning Herald were announced earlier this week, and include Tom Lee (Coach Fitz), Robbie Arnott (Flames), Jamie Marina Lau (Pink Mountain on Locust Island) and Ruby J. Murray (The Biographer’s Lover).

This award recognises emerging talents who have published their first book under the age of 35. This year’s awards were judged by the literary editor of The Age and the SMH, Jason Steger, together with novelists Felicity Castagna and Delia Falconer.

It’s interesting to see so much representation from the indie publishers amongst the winners – all four authors are repped by smaller, independent publishers (Giramondo, Text, Brow Books, and Black Inc.). Does the future of book publishing lie with the indies? Only time will tell…

You can find more info on the 2019 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists here.

SMH Best Young Australian Novelists
Tom Lee, Robbit Arnott, Jamie Marina Lau, and Ruby J. Murray.

Aurealis Award winners for 2018 announced

The Aurealis Awards winners for 2018 were announced earlier this week, rewarding the best Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writing published in the previous year.

Fiendishly tall human Jay Kristoff has taken out the prize for Best Science Fiction Novel for his book Lifel1k3, while the Best Fantasy Novel award went to two authors – Sam Hawke for City of Lies and Maria Lewis for The Witch Who Courted Death.

Other winners include:

You can find a full list of winners here.

Aurealis Awards - 2018
The Aussie sci-fi/fantasy community living it up at the Aurealis Awards ceremony

ALS Gold Medal 2019 shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2019 Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal has been announced.

The shortlisted titles are:

Find out more about the ALS Gold Medal here.

Other interesting tidbits…

  • Britain could very well be without a Poet Laureate this year, as acclaimed Pakistani-born British poet Imtiaz Dharker has turned down the position, the highest honour in British poetry. Dharker cites a need to focus on her writing as the reason, so the search for the successor to Carol Ann Duffy continues… read more here.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, which was adapted into an opera back in 2000, is now being staged in a basketball stadium at Harvard University – the very place the novel is thought to be set in. This looks like an absolutely stunning production – you can check it out here.

That’s it for this week – as always, thanks for reading!

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About the Contributor

Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, Olivia decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.

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