ACT Book of the Year Award

The ACT Government, through the ACT Arts Fund administered by artsACT (official site), has offered an ACT Book of the Year award since 1993. The prize recognises quality contemporary Australian literary works including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. To be eligible for the author must either reside in the ACT or strongly demonstrate an ACT literary practice, and the book must have been published in the calendar year preceding the year of nomination.

The 2007 winner, Thon That Quynh Du, won the award for his wonderful translation of Sunday Menu written by Berlin-based leading avant-garde Vietnamese writer Phan Thi Hoai.

The $10,000 Judith Wright Prize for a published collection by an Australian poet was jointly won by Victorian poet Diane Fahey, for her collection Sea Wall and River Light, and Canberra poet S.K. Kelen, for Earthly Delight

2010 Winner & Shortlists

The judges of the ACT Book of the Year Award considered Valley of Grace to be a beautiful
work both in form and in content.

It was considered that this book by Marion Halligan strongly met the criteria for the Award
being that of excellence in literature, quality of writing and a contribution to the ACT’s
literary profile. It was also considered that the work possessed a high quality physical

The book’s style was considered elegant and full of evocative detail and its structure
delicately balanced. Interwoven narratives present a loving but unsentimental picture of the
city of Paris and of the French way of life in all its charm, elegance, and sensuality. Yet
beneath these delights runs a dark undercurrent of loss and death, of betrayal, of cruelty, and of the hold that the past continues to have on the present.

Marion Halligan has a lengthy list of awards and literary prizes to her name and is a novelist,
essayist and short-story writer. She has been short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers
Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and has been awarded the Age Book of the
Year, the Steele Rudd Award, and the Nita B. Kibble Award. In 2006 she was made a
Member of the Order of Australia for her services to Literature. She lives in Canberra.

The Short-listed nominations to the 2010 ACT Book of the Year Award are:

 Andrew Byrnes, Hilary Charlesworth, and Gabrielle McKinnon for Bills of Rights in Australia: history, politics and law, UNSW Press, 2009;
 Alan Gould for The Lake Woman, Australian Scholarly Publishing (an imprint of Arcadia), 2009;
 Matthew Higgins for Rugged Beyond Imagination, National Museum of Australia Press, 2009; and
 Mark Tredinnick for The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir, University of Queenland Press, 2009.



Nicholas Drayson A Guide to the Birds of East Africa: A Novel

2008 ACT Book of the Year Award

Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago

Winner: Tony Kevin: Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago [Scribe Publications]

In May 2006, armed only with a small rucksack and a staff, Tony Kevin, an overweight, sedentary, 63- year-old former diplomat, set off on an eight-week trek across Spain. But this was not just a very long walk - it was a pilgrimage. From Granada, in the southeast, to Santiago de Compostela, in the far northwest, Tony followed the Via Mozarabe and the Via de la Plata, two of the many pilgrim trails that crisscross Spain and Portugal and that all lead to a single destination. More

Other Nominated

    Love and the Platypus

Nicholas Drayson: Love and the Platypus [Scribe Publications] -

In 1883 young British naturalist William Caldwell arrives in Australia with a mission: to determine for the scientific record whether the platypus really does lay eggs. His journey leads to an examination of the obsessive nature of scientific enquiry and its consequences, and the wonders of nature and love. Author lives in Australia.

Pharaoh: The Boy Who Conquered the Nile

Jackie French: Pharaoh: The Boy Who Conquered the Nile[Angus and Robertson]

Prince Narmer, first in line of succession, meets an oracle who changes his life. Ousted from the line by a disfiguring struggle with a crocodile, Narmer travels, learning much about faraway lands and his place in the world. Most of all, he learns what it means to be a true king and leader. Ages 10-14

Where the Sea Takes Us: A Vietnamese-Australian Story

Kim Huynh: Where the Sea Takes Us: A Vietnamese-Australian Story [Fourth Estate]

In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese families set out on perilous journeys in rickety boats to escape communist rule and seek out a better life. Kim Huynh's family was one of them. In this unique memoir, Kim traces his parents' precarious lives, from their poor villages in central and southern Vietnam, through relative affluence Kevin Rudd: The Biographyin Saigon, to their harrowing experiences after the American withdrawal and the fall of Saigon in 1975, which led them to a new life in Australia. More

Robert Macklin: Kevin Rudd: The Biography [Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books




Thon-That, Quynh Du [for translation of] Sunday Menu: Selected Short Stories of Pham Thi Hoai

A collection of poignant and evocative short stories from Pham Thi Hoai, widely regarded as a leading avant-garde Vietnamese writer. Pham Thi Hoai's first novel, The Crystal Messenger, received critical acclaim in Vietnam and has been translated into many languages, with the German translation winning the Literature in 1993. Thon That Quynh Du also translated this work in to English. Pham Thi Hoai now lives in Berlin, where she was awarded a City of Berlin literary grant in 1994. Ton That Quynh Du won the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for translation in 2000. seems to be a fair bit cheaper from, even with shipping}


Lutton, Nancy, My Dearest Brown Eyes: The Letters of Donald and Rachel Clelanddearest_brown_eyes_cover

Edited collection of war-time correspondence between Sir Donald Cleland and Dame Rachel Cleland: a love story, a political debate, a family saga and a war commentary in one passionate exchange between two figures who together made a remarkable contribution to the post-war development of Australia and PNG.

Edgar, Suzanne, The Painted Lady

Canberra resident Suzanne Edgar's first collection of poetry, The Painted Lady, was prepared with the help of a $10,000 grant from artsACT. It was published, as far as we can gather, by Ginninderra Press in November 2006, but is not currently available. Ms. Edgar apparently belongs to a professional poets’ group [no name] comprised of two men and two women who meet monthly at The Mull and Fiddle, to discuss work in progress, so if you can catch her she may have a few back copies for sale. Alternatively try Ginninderra Press directly.

WINNERS 1993-2006

vincenzos_garden_cover2006- Clanchy, John, Vincenzo's Garden and Other Plots

"John Clanchy has made a quiet reputation over many years as a writer of short fiction. Vincenzo's Garden can only build on that. Its seven stories are all written in the laconic, reticent style that Clanchy has made his own. They are linked by the recurring motif of Van Gogh (whose paintings appear on the cover and inside cover) and by occasional textual links that may or may not be intended". From Laurie Clancy, The Age

2005- Kevin, Tony, A Certain Maritime Incident - Based on a series of extensive interviews, this book provides an in-depth analysis of the influence of a generation of prominent female politicians on the Australian political system and explores the part played by the press in their downfall.

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2004- Halligan, Marion, The Point- the_point_cover
Themes of destruction, loss, and desire are explored in this intricately crafted novel. On a cliff overlooking a scenic lake and city skyline rises an elegant glass confection that is home to the best restaurant in town-- The Point. Here, in lamp-lit art deco splendour, the city's elite come to dine on the delicious concoctions of its celebrated chef. Nearby, in a ferry shelter that no ferry has ever visited, Clovis, an elderly homeless man befriends Gwenyth, a young heroin addict. Clovis and Gwenyth are not part of life inside the posh restaurant-- until a man is brutally murdered and the paths of the "haves" and the "have-nots" cross. This entrancing book goes much deeper than surface perceptions, revealing the complexities of human relationships.

hard_word_cover2003- Clanchy, John, The Hard Word by - Miriam is facing an emotional flash point. Her mother Vera is slipping into the obliterating darkness of Alzheimer's disease and her teenage daughter Laura is embroiled in her own conflict of identity and sexuality.

2002- French, Jackie, In the Blood

2001 joint- Gould, Alan, The Schoonermaster’s Dance

Sarah Tilber is a woman who becomes obsessed by the past, specifically by the story of her ancestor, Charles Tilber, a schoonermaster and the only shadowy figure on her family tree. Leaving her husband and her secure job, she sets out on a journey across the world, determined to fill the gaps in her family history.

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2001 joint - Johnston, Dorothy, The Trojan Dog

2000- Caesar, Adrian, The White: Last Days in the Antarctic Journeys of Scott and Mawson 1911-1913

1999 - Cormick, Craig, Unwritten Histories)

1998- Chittick, Lee, Traveling With Percy: A South Coast Journey

1997- Rendle-Short, Francesca, Imagoimago_cover

Imago is a disquieting powerful, beautifully crafted exploration of a woman's coming of age. Told in a series off flashbacks, it is the story of Molly Rose Moone's painful emigration and ultimate acclamation to the harsh Australian landscape and the strange, overwhelming love for the woman who becomes her mentor. Imago is as compelling as it is disturbing". -- Nisa Donnelly Imago tells of the migration of Molly Rose, a young British immigrant, virgin bride of the hopelessly inhibited soil scientist Jimmy from England to Australia. Jimmy is lost culturally and spiritually while his young wife is immediately seduced by the country -- its smells, climate, light -- and Marj, the hospitable neighbour. Marj was fat. 'But it wasn't only her bulk that interested Molly. It was the colour and texture of the skin -- taut, brown, hardened. Skin stretched and hair bleached. Good-looking, hardworking skin.' The friendship that develops between Marj and Molly Rose fills this story of love and obsession, of seductions and transformations.

1996 Hetherington, Paul, Shadow Swimmer

1995- Dowse, Sarah, Sapphires

1994 - Foulcher, John, New and Selected Poems

1993 joint Halligan, Marion, Lovers’ Knot

1993 joint, Hope, A.D., Chance Encounters

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