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The Courier-Mail People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year
Subcategory of Queensland Literary Awards
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  • The Courier-Mail People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year was inaugurated in 2012 with prizemoney of $5,000.00. The award is open to fiction and non-fiction books, written by Queensland-born authors, in the period from May to May in the year preceeding the award annoucement.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon Mary's Last Dance Mary Li , Melbourne : Viking , 2020 19548074 2020 single work autobiography

'I can vividly remember the last steps of the last ballet, walking off the stage led by a mother and knowing the decision I had to make. That was my last dance.'

'Mary Li (nee McKendry) is an international ballet star and a mother like no other. She became a household name when her husband Li Cunxin published his bestselling memoir, Mao's Last Dancer - but that book told only half the story.

'Growing up in a rambunctious family in Rockhampton, Mary discovered an extraordinary early passion for ballet. It saw her move to London at age sixteen, to study at the Royal Ballet School and dance at the London Festival Ballet with the likes of Nureyev, and later to Houston Ballet, where as Principal Dancer she fell in love with the acclaimed Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin. The couple became the darlings of the dance world, and were happier than they could have imagined at the arrival of their firstborn daughter, Sophie.

'Then right at the height of her international career, Mary seemingly disappeared from view, leaving the fans aghast. What could have happened to cause a woman so committed, so talented, to give it all away in a heartbeat? Now, almost twenty years on, fans finally get their answer about what happened next to this inspiring family, and learn why it is Mary's turn to tell a truly remarkable tale.

'Mary's Last Dance is a powerful and uplifting memoir about chasing an impossible dream, and sacrificing one's own ambition for the love of a child. It is a moving and unforgettable story of passion, dedication and devotion - and the highly anticipated sequel to one of the world's most beloved books.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon A Lifetime of Impossible Days Tabitha Bird , Melbourne : Viking , 2019 16556174 2019 single work novel

'Meet Willa Waters, aged 8 . . . 33 . . . and 93.

On one impossible day in 1965, eight-year-old Willa receives a mysterious box containing a jar of water and the instruction: ‘One ocean: plant in the backyard.’ So she does - and somehow creates an extraordinary time slip that allows her to visit her future selves.

On one impossible day in 1990, Willa is 33 and a mother-of-two when her childhood self magically appears in her backyard. But she’s also a woman haunted by memories of her dark past – and is on the brink of a decision that will have tragic repercussions . . .

On one impossible day in 2050, Willa is a silver-haired, gumboot-loving 93-year-old whose memory is fading fast. Yet she knows there’s something she has to remember, a warning she must give her past selves about a terrible event in 1990. If only she could recall what it was.

Can the three Willas come together, to heal their past and save their future, before it’s too late?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Adani, Following Its Dirty Footsteps : A Personal Story Lindsay Simpson , Geelong North : Spinifex Press , 2018 14756333 2018 single work autobiography

'From fishing villages on the Gujarat coastline to Adani's power plant in Mundra and the company's headquarters in Ahmedabad, Lindsay Simpson’s personal story tracks how the Adani Group managed to woo Australian governments into approving Australia’s largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin and port expansion in a zone of great ecological sensitivity.

'Why would an Australian Prime Minister, a State Premier and a handful of regional mayors back such a project, risking the future of the Great Barrier Reef and threatening Australia’s vast precious source of underground water – the Great Artesian Basin? And what of the consequences for greenhouse gas emissions if other proposed mines in the Galilee Basin go ahead?

'Why is there a single-minded pursuit of the mining of coal when we are running out of time to do something useful about climate change? As a tourism operator in the Whitsundays Lindsay Simpson, investigative journalist, former academic and author, is determined to expose the contribution of coal mines to global warming, which is threatening the world’s largest living organism – the Great Barrier Reef – with extinction.

'With other activists, she travels from Adani's Indian headquarters in Gujarat to Parliament House in Canberra to lobby politicians, demand answers and question motivations. She also documents the power of the social movement, Stop Adani, which has captured the public imagination.

'In an astute analysis of this ongoing environmental battle, the biggest since the Franklin Dam in the 1980s, Lindsay Simpson argues that while Adani might have gained the backing of politicians, it has not won over the Australian people. (Publication summary)

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Saltwater : An Epic Fight for Justice in the Tropics We Come From Saltwater People Cathy McLennan , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2016 8150555 2016 single work autobiography

'When Cathy McLennan first steps into Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service as a young graduate she isn’t expecting a major murder case to land on her desk. The accused are four teenage boys whose family connections stretch across the water to Palm Island.

'As she battles to prove herself in the courtroom, Cathy realises that the truth is far more complex than she first thought. She starts to question who are the criminals and who are the victims.

'Saltwater tells the compelling story of one lawyer’s fight for justice amongst the beauty and the violence of this tropical paradise.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Swimming Home Mary-Rose MacColl , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2015 8719037 2015 single work novel historical fiction

'The lone swimmer, turning over now to switch to a perfectly executed back crawl, wasn't Oxford or Cambridge, wasn't a man. It was a woman, a girl. It was Catherine. Of course it was Catherine.

'It's 1925 and fifteen-year-old Catherine Quick longs to feel once more the warm waters of her home, to strike out into the ocean off the Torres Strait Islands and swim, as she's done since she was a tiny child. But now, with her recent move to London where she lives with her aunt Louisa, Catherine feels that everything she values has been stripped away.

'Louisa, a busy, confident London surgeon who fought boldly for equality for women, holds definite views on the behaviour of her young niece. She wants Catherine to pursue an education, just as she did, to ensure her future freedom. Since Catherine arrived, however, Louisa's every step seems to be wrong and she is finding it harder and harder to block painful memories from her past.

'It takes the influence of enigmatic American banker Manfred Lear Black to convince Louisa to come to New York where Catherine can test her mettle against the first women in the world to swim the English Channel. And where, unexpectedly, Louisa can finally listen to what her own heart tells her.

Like Mary-Rose MacColl's bestselling novel, In Falling Snow, Swimming Home tells a story of ordinary women who became extraordinary.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Volume Documenting Brisbane’s Greek Cafe Culture a Finalist for Queensland Book of the Year Award 2019 single work column
— Appears in: Neos Kosmos , September 2019;

'Brisbane’s Greek Cafes: A Million Malted Milks has been named a finalist for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award.'

Heartfelt Tale to Be Considered for Award Phil Brown , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 26 August 2016; (p. 12)
'Working as a crisis counsellor gave Brisbane author Cass Moriarty the inspiration for her poignant debut novel. The Promise Seed is the story of a neglected boy and his friendship with the elderly man next door and it has been selected as one of eight finalists for the $10,000 The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Book of the Year Award. Voting for this year’s award is now open and The Courier-Mail writers Matthew Condon and Susan Johnson are also in the mix. ...'
Author Lands Place on Book Prize Shortlist Phil Brown , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 31 August 2016; (p. 24)
'Her latest book, The Landing, has been nominated for the $10,000 The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award, part of the Queensland Literary Awards. Johnson’s novel is set by a lake somewhere near Noosa. She said it was inspired by the local landscape and, while there were many actual locations, the main setting and the people in her novel were purely fictional. ...'
A Heartfelt Tale Gains Book Prize Nomination Phil Brown , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 7 September 2016; (p. 21)

'writing about her brother’s death was the hardest thing Brisbane author Elspeth Muir has ever done.'

'Her book Wasted, which is subtitled A story of alcohol, grief and a death in Brisbane, is as moving as it is heartbreaking and has been nominated for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year award. ...'