Arts & Entertainment

Australian Book Industry Awards Recap

Warnings of the imminent death of the book have been grossly exaggerated, judging by the glittering crowd that walked the red carpet at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) last Thursday. 

This was certainly the opinion held by Richard Walsh, whose illustrious career in publishing and the media won him the Lloyd O’Neil Hall of Fame Award.

The Australian Publishers Association said that more than 300 ABIA Book Award nominations had been submitted by authors and publishers across the country.

The awards dinner (at $300 a pop) was hosted by entertainer Casey Benetto, who introduced the presenters given the job of handing out trophies in 21 categories. 

To mention the most notable of the winners, novelist Trent Dalton won a swag of awards for his first published novel, Boy Swallows Universe. 

Dalton must be thrilled to see his bank balance rise steeply with the publication of his book by HarperCollins in more than 28 languages. Goodreads describes Boy Swallows Universe as, “A novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane’s violent working class suburban fringe”. 

It has already sold more than 129,000 copies in Australia, which is regarded as a remarkable achievement for a debut novelist.

Unwilling Manus resident Behrouz Boochani received a second award – the General Non-Fiction Book of the Year – for his memoir No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, which was tapped out on a mobile phone then translated from the Farsi.

See for the complete 2019 awards list.


Recap by Irina Dunn.