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Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year Award
or ACT Book of the Year Award
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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The ACT Government offers the ACT Book of the Year Award annually for excellence in literature. The Award recognises quality contemporary Australian literary works including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, by ACT-based authors published in the previous calendar year.

The author may include an editor or translator who, in the opinion of the judges, has made a substantial and creative contribution to the original material from which the book is derived.

Source: Sighted: 10/12/2013.


  • The ACT Book of the Year Award 'recognises quality contemporary works and the contribution the book makes to Canberra's literary and cultural life.'

    (Source: ACT government Arts publication, Arts Capital News, December 2003))

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Ghost Bird Lisa Fuller , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2019 16861510 2019 single work novel young adult

'Remember daughter, the world is a lot bigger than anyone knows. There are things that science may never explain. Maybe some things that shouldn’t be explained.

'Stacey and Laney are twins – mirror images of each other – and yet they’re as different as the sun and the moon. Stacey works hard at school, determined to get out of their small town. Laney skips school and sneaks out of the house to meet her boyfriend. But when Laney disappears one night, Stacey can’t believe she’s just run off without telling her.

'As the days pass and Laney doesn’t return, Stacey starts dreaming of her twin. The dreams are dark and terrifying, difficult to understand and hard to shake, but at least they tell Stacey one key thing – Laney is alive. It’s hard for Stacey to know what’s real and what’s imagined and even harder to know who to trust. All she knows for sure is that Laney needs her help.

'Stacey is the only one who can find her sister. Will she find her in time?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Book of Colours Robyn Cadwallader , Sydney South : HarperCollins Australia , 2018 13526246 2018 single work novel historical fiction

'London, 1321: In a small shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a book of hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world. In many ways, this is a story about power - it is also a novel about the place of women in the roiling and turbulent world of the early fourteenth century; what power they have, how they wield it, and just how temporary and conditional it is.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Dancing Home Paul Collis , St Lucia : The University of Queensland , 2017 11671262 2017 single work novel

‘When he was in gaol, he’d begun to prepare himself for the fight of his life, a showdown with the policeman, McWilliams … he’d face life with death, and see who blinked first.’ 

'Blackie and Rips are fresh out of prison when they set off on a road trip back to Wiradjuri country with their mate Carlos. Blackie is out for revenge against the cop who put him in prison on false grounds. He is also craving to reconnect with his grandmother’s country. 

'Driven by his hunger for drugs and payback, Blackie reaches dark places of both mystery and beauty as he searches for peace. He is willing to pay for that peace with his own life. 

'Part road-movie, part ‘Koori-noir’, Dancing Home announces an original and darkly funny new voice.'

[source: Publisher's website]

Year: 2015

winner y separately published work icon The Snow Kimono Mark Henshaw , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2014 7472103 2014 single work novel thriller

'There are times in your life when something happens, after which you're never the same. It may be something direct or indirect, or something someone says to you. But whatever it is, there is no going back.

'Paris: 1989. Recently retired police inspector Auguste Jovert receives a letter from a woman who claims to be his daughter. Two days later, a stranger comes knocking on his door…

'Set in France and Japan, The Snow Kimono tells the stories of Jovert, former Professor of Law Tadashi Omura, and his one-time friend the writer Katsuo Ikeda. All three have lied to themselves, and to each other. Their lies are about to catch up with them.

'A quarter of a century after the award-winning bestseller Out of the Line of Fire, Mark Henshaw returns with an intricately plotted, beautifully written novel that is both a psychological thriller and an unforgettable meditation on love and loss, memory and its deceptions, and the ties that bind us to others.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2014

winner y separately published work icon Beloved Land : Stories, Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste Gordon Peake , Carlton North : Scribe , 2013 6470166 2013 single work prose travel

'At the stroke of midnight on 20 May 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste became the first new nation of the 21st century. From that moment, those who fought for independence have faced a challenge even bigger than shaking off Indonesian occupation: running a country of their own.

Beloved Land picks up the story where world attention left off. Blending narrative history, travelogue, and personal reminiscences based on four years of living in the country, Gordon Peake shows the daunting hurdles that the people of Timor-Leste must overcome to build a nation from scratch, and how much the international community has to learn if it is to help rather than hinder the process. Family politics, squabbles, power struggles, old romances, and even older grudges are woven into life in this land of intrigue and rumours in the most remarkable ways.

Yet above all, Beloved Land is a story about the one million East Timorese who speak nearly 20 different languages, and who are exuberantly building their nation. Written with verve and deep affection, the book introduces a set of colourful Timorese and international characters, and brings them to life unforgettably.' (Publisher's blurb)

Works About this Award

The 2016 ACT Book of the Year Shortlist Has a Wide Variety of Subjects Ron Cerabona , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 26 August 2016;
'The shortlist for the 2016 ACT Book of the Year was announced on Friday at the National Library of Australia by ACT Arts Minister Chris Bourke on the first day of the inaugural Canberra Writers Festival. ...'
Fact and Fiction Features on Book of the Year Shortlist Natasha Rudra , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 20 November 2014; (p. 9)
Writer Walks Off With Top Accolade Natasha Rudra , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 17 December 2008; (p. 3)
Big Win for Avid Reader Helen Musa , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 13 December 2006; (p. 4)
Author's Sense of 'Public Duty' Scoops ACT Literary Award Catherine Naylor , 2005 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 December 2005; (p. 9)