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‘When the Ground is Hard’ wins LA Times Book Prize for YA

When the Ground is Hard by Sydney-based writer Malla Nunn (A&U) has won the 2019 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for young adult literature.

Nunn was shortlisted for the award alongside US authors Laurie Halse Anderson (Shout, Text), A S King (Dig, Text), Thanhha Lai (Butterfly Yellow, UQP) and Randy Ribay (Patron Saints of Nothing, Little Tiger Press).

Nunn, who was born and raised in Swaziland, told the LA Times that the book, which is set in a boarding school during South Africa’s apartheid era, ‘came out of a massive failure of trying to write something that I thought would just be entertaining, instead of just writing what was close to my heart’.

‘I’ve been to this boarding school, why would I want to go back there?’ said Nunn. ‘But a writer friend encouraged me, and also said: Take really good care of yourself while you work on this. You’re going to be going back to a place you didn’t love.’

When the Ground is Hard is also on the 2020 CBCA shortlist in the older readers category.

Now in their 40th year, the LA Times Book Prizes are judged by ‘working writers’ and awarded across 12 categories. Previous winners have included Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Doris Lessing, Joan Didion, Allen Ginsberg and Margaret Atwood.

Fellow Australian Jane Harper was a finalist in the mystery category of the awards for The Lost Man (Macmillan). See all categories, finalists and winners here.


Category: Awards Local news