Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Indie Book Awards, who were announced at a gala dinner on 20 March.
Jane Harper’s The Dry took out the overall Book of the Year Award as well as the prize for Best Debut Fiction.
The awards are uniquely judged and voted for by Australia’s independent booksellers,
recognising the great breadth and depth of talent in Australian writing.
You can view the full list of shortlisted titles here.
BOOK OF THE YEAR / BEST DEBUT FICTION
Who really killed the Hadler family?
Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well …
When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.
And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret … A secret Falk thought long-buried … A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface …
STAFF REVIEW BY SUZIE:
The Dry is a compelling thriller set in drought-stricken rural Australia, where a murder-suicide is not what it seems. This book keeps you intrigued and guessing right to the end. Unputdownable, this is one of the best debut novels I have ever read.
In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland as a master painter, the first woman to be so honoured. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain-a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the Manhattan bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she’s curating an exhibition of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive.
As the three threads intersect with increasing and exquisite suspense, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerises while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.
In this extraordinary novel, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Australian writer Dominic Smith brilliantly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the Golden Age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated Australian art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.
STAFF REVIEW BY IAN:
An intriguing mystery revolving around the lives of two women artists from different centuries, the book centres around lost paintings and art forgery. This is a very polished and well constructed story from a new Australian author.
I pedal over to Kensington just after dark. As I roll along the lane towards the railway underpass, a young Asian woman on her way home from the station walks out of the tunnel towards me. After she passes there’s a stillness, a moment of silent freshness that feels like spring.
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s greatest writers. Her short non-fiction has enormous range. Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
Everywhere I Look includes Garner’s famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.
STAFF REVIEW BY SUZIE:
A considered, intimate and honest collection of essays by Helen Garner. I was absorbed by her reflections of the mundane intricacies of everyday life as she mused on her life experiences and influences. The book was an important reminder that there are many things in our everyday which are worthy of discussion and reflection, and that we should open ourselves to empathy for others undergoing unbearable pressure.
Tiny godwit birds follow ancient, invisible pathways in an infinity of sky. Flying on and on, for nine nights and nine days, flying without rest. From Arctic icebergs in the north, to tropical golden beaches in the south, across thousands of kilometres of Pacific Ocean. ‘Circle’ captures the sheer wonder of this migratory journey, reminding us of the global interdependence of nature.
The Godwit’s remarkable flight is followed as it comes full circle… back to the place where mud and sand become sea.
STAFF REVIEW BY LILY:
Circle captures the sheer wonder of the migratory journey of the godwit. From Arctic icebergs in the north, to tropical golden beaches in the south, it reminds us of the global interdependence of nature and mankind. The beautiful, poetic text features a simple narrative that follows the birds through their generational life cycle. A wonderful non-fiction picture book suitable for younger and older children.
BEST YOUNG ADULT
Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries
This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words that they leave behind.
Sometimes you need the poets
The new novel from the award-winning author of Graffiti Moon.
STAFF REVIEW BY ROMY:
Three years ago Rachel left the city and moved to the sea, leaving behind her best friend Henry. Now, Rachel has returned to Melbourne to grieve the death of her brother Cal while trying to find answers in a ‘letter library’ where she’s working at Henry’s family’s bookstore. But a lot can change in three years and Rachel must navigate the new territory of her old friendships before she can start looking to the future. Set in Melbourne, this is an honest and hopeful novel about grief, love and life that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. An essential read for book lovers everywhere.