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Most Underrated Book Award
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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This annual award aims to shine a light on some of the outstanding titles produced by small and independent Australian publishers that, for whatever reason, did not receive their fair dues when first released. Organised by the Small Press Network (SPN), it has recently been sponsored by Booktopia.

Replaced from 2020 with the Small Press Network Book of the Year Award.


  • Inaugurated in 2012 by the Small Press Network 'to showcase outstanding books published by small and independent publishers in Australia'.

    Source: Small Press Network website,
    Sighted: 17/10/2012

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Songwoman Ilka Tampke , London : Hodder and Stoughton , 2018 12801286 2018 single work novel historical fiction fantasy

'Since the slaughter of her people, Ailia has been living, alone, in the forest. It is a time of deep healing and communing with the earth and its spirits - the Mothers. But now, Ailia has regained enough strength to return to the tribes, and rejoin the war.

'She goes to Llanmelin, a major tribal centre in southeast Wales, where the British war king, Caradog has been leading a bitter guerrilla campaign against the encroaching Roman army.

'Ailia and Caradog begin a passionate relationship - but as the Roman general Scapula becomes ever more determined to claim the rich roils of Wales, pressure mounts for a final battle that will determine the future of Britain.

'As the battle approaches, Ailia must use her powers to protect, forever, what is most sacred amongst her people. The future of Britain will depend upon her success.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Living in Hope Frank Byrne , Frances Coughlan , Gerard Waterford , Alice Springs : Ptilotus Press , 2017 14216416 2017 single work autobiography

'The killing times were barely over in the Kimberley.
What I knew, even as a small boy, was that no-one argued with a whitefella. People talked in whispers.
I was still so small.
This is the story of the early years of my life. The story of a boy who was taken away from his mother and his family forever when he was just six years old. He had no say in it. His family had no say in it. The government had all the say in everything.

'A memoir of boyhood by a man who was removed as a child – from country, from culture and language, from family, from his mother.

'Filled with surprises and unlikely fun, this is more than just a story of surviving. From hiding out from the Japanese in spring-fed caves in the deep Kimberley, to being let loose in a paddock just like a poddy calf at Moola Bulla, to cowboy comics at the Beagle Bay mission.

'A story of white bosses, of priest bosses, of black stockmen and of staying out of trouble.

'With honesty and unexpected graciousness, Frank reminds us of a not-so-distant past and of how things happened for Aboriginal people in the North West.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon The Invisible War : A Tale on Two Scales Ailsa Wild , Briony Barr , Gregory Crocetti , Ben Hutchings (illustrator), Collingwood : Scale Free Network , 2016 10777298 2016 single work graphic novel young adult

'While treating a patient with dysentery, Sister Annie Barnaby encounters a strain of lethal bacteria. As the invaders journey deep into her gut, the resident microbes must ght to survive. Annie’s life hangs in the balance. Enter the phage, a deadly predator, ready to wage war to protect their host.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2016

winner Marcus Westbury For Creating Cities.

Year: 2015

winner y separately published work icon The Grapple Annual No. 1 Duncan Felton (editor), Campbell : Grapple Publishing , 2014 8884152 2014 anthology poetry short story autobiography

'The Grapple Annual is Grapple Publishing’s flagship publication. It’s a calendar-based anthology, always full of excellent prose, poetry, comics and art. Each will be a diverse collection, with contributors from all over Canberra, across Australia and around the world. Only 365 numbered and dated copies of each Annual are printed (366 in leap years). It’ll hook and hold you for the whole year.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Small Publishers Make Big Deal of Books That Slipped Under the Radar Top Books You've Probably Never Read Linda Morris , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 14-15 December 2013; (p. 13) The Age , 14 December 2013; (p. 3)
Low Shelf Esteem Jane Sullivan , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 10 November 2012; (p. 32)