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Nonfiction
Subcategory of Indie Awards
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Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Tell Me Why : The Story of My Life and My Music Archie Roach , Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2019 16745125 2019 single work autobiography

'One of the most powerful and highly anticipated Australian stories to be told.

'No one has lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

'Roach was only a few years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

'In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Roach’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Roach voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

'Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon The Arsonist The Arsonist : A Mind on Fire Chloe Hooper , Melbourne : Penguin , 2018 14732249 2018 single work non-fiction crime

'The Arsonist takes readers inside the hunt for a fire-lighter. After Black Saturday, a February 2009 day marked by 47 degree heat and firestorms, arson squad detectives arrived at a plantation on the edge of a 26,000-hectare burn site. Eleven people had just been killed and hundreds made homeless. Here, in the Latrobe Valley, where Victoria’s electricity is generated, and the rates of unemployment, crime and domestic abuse are the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn’t know.

'The Arsonist tells a remarkable detective story, as the police close in on someone they believe to be a cunning offender; and a puzzling psychological story, as defence lawyers seek to understand the motives of a man who, they claimed, was a naïf that had accidentally dropped a cigarette.

'It is the story not only of this fire - how it happened, the people who died, the aftermath for the community - but of fire in this country. What it has done, what it has meant, what it might yet do. Bushfire is one of Australia’s deepest anxieties, never more so than when deliberately lit. Arson, wrote Henry Lawson, expresses a malice ‘terrifying to those who have seen what it is capable of. You never know when you are safe.‘

'As she did in The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper takes us to a part of the country seldom explored, and reveals something buried but essential in our national psyche. The bush, summertime, a smouldering cigarette - none of these will feel the same again.'  (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Saga Land Kári Gíslason , Richard Fidler , Sydney : ABC Books , 2017 12035241 2017 selected work prose

'A gripping blend of family mystery, contemporary stories and the beautiful and bloody Viking tales, set against the starkly stunning landscape of Iceland.

'Broadcaster Richard Fidler and author Kari Gíslason are good friends. They share a deep attachment to the sagas of Iceland - the true stories of the first Viking families who settled on that remote island in the Middle Ages.These are tales of blood feuds, of dangerous women, and people who are compelled to kill the ones they love the most. The sagas are among the greatest stories ever written, but the identity of their authors is largely unknown.

'Together, Richard and Kari travel across Iceland, to the places where the sagas unfolded a thousand years ago. They cross fields, streams and fjords to immerse themselves in the folklore of this fiercely beautiful island. And there is another mission: to resolve a longstanding family mystery - a gift from Kari's Icelandic father that might connect him to the greatest of the saga authors.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Everywhere I Look Helen Garner , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2016 9174059 2016 selected work essay

'Every day I work on the edit of my book. I slog away, shifting chunks of material and moving them back, eating my salad in a daze, wondering if the linking passages I’ve written are leading me up a garden path, or are sentimental, or violate some unarticulated moral and technical code I’ve signed up to and feel trapped in or obliged to. The sheer bloody labour of writing. No one but another writer understands it—the heaving about of great boulders into a stable arrangement so that you can bound up them and plant your little flag at the very top.

'Spanning fifteen years of work, Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments—sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and laughter. 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. ' (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Reckoning : A Memoir Magda Szubanski , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2015 8858243 2015 single work autobiography

'Heartbreaking, joyous, traumatic, intimate and revelatory, Reckoning is the book where Magda Szubanski, one of Australia's most beloved performers, tells her story.

'In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family. With courage and compassion she addresses her own frailties and fears, and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.

'Honest, poignant, utterly captivating, Reckoning announces the arrival of a fearless writer and natural storyteller. It will touch the lives of its readers.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Canon Fodder Nicolas Rothwell , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 9-10 June 2012; (p. 18-19)
'Those searching for the great works of Australian literature are looking in the wrong places, argues Nicolas Rothwell' (p.18)
Book Award a Smashing Tribute : McInnes Jason Steger , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 11 March 2012; (p. 2)
Literary Nod for McInnes Rob Kidd , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 26 January 2012; (p. 20)
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