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Inside the Australian book industry

Boochani to headline Ubud; new ventures in Australian publishing

Author, journalist and Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani, whose memoir No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (Picador) has won several Australian literary awards and been sold into nine territories, will headline this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Indonesia (23–27 October). Boochani, who has been detained on Manus Island since 2013, will appear at the festival via WhatsApp.

A number of new ventures have been announced in the Australian book industry over the past month. Australian literary agents Gaby Naher of The Naher Agency and Grace Heifetz of Curtis Brown Australia have partnered to form a new Sydney-based literary agency called Left Bank Literary. Two former Finch Publishing staff—managing editor Samantha Miles and digital and media manager Sonya Danaher—have launched Bad Apple Press, a ‘boutique’ publisher of nonfiction specialising in memoir. And Thames & Hudson has announced an expansion of its Australian publishing division, with the Melbourne-based company opening a Sydney office and appointing former Melbourne University Publishing executive publisher Sally Heath to develop a new narrative nonfiction list.

Finally, international publishers and agents heading to Frankfurt can now register for the Australian Publishers Association’s Speed Meeting Program. The program offers participants the opportunity to meet independent Australian publishers and learn more about the Australian market (especially useful for those thinking of applying for the popular Australia Council Visiting International Program). For more information and to register, email the Australian Publishers Association’s Cat Colwell at

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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Krien’s debut novel ‘Act of Grace’ sold to UK

Black Inc. has sold UK and Commonwealth rights (ex ANZ and Canada) to accomplished nonfiction author Anna Krien’s forthcoming debut novel Act of Grace to Serpent’s Tail. Acquiring editor Hannah Westland described the novel as ‘the most ambitious and accomplished debut novel I can remember reading for a long time’. Act of Grace spans several distinct locations as it follows four characters wrestling with trauma and inheritance.

North American rights to Madeleine Ryan’s forthcoming debut novel A Room Called Earth (due to be published by Scribe in ANZ and the UK) have been sold to Penguin Random House USA by the Barbara J Zitwer Agency. Ryan’s novel is told through the eyes of a young autistic woman as she gets ready for and attends a party.


Hachette Australia has acquired ANZ rights to Allie Reynolds’ debut novel Shiver—a ‘high-concept’ locked-room thriller set in the French Alps—in partnership with Headline UK following a 10-way auction for UK and Commonwealth rights. Shiver follows five snowboarders who meet up years after one of their competitors mysteriously disappeared.

Hachette Australia has also acquired ANZ rights to Richell Prize winner Sam Coley’s novel State Highway One. The novel tells the story of twins who embark on a road trip across New Zealand after the unexpected deaths of their parents.

Transit Lounge has acquired world rights to Kirsten Krauth’s novel Almost a Mirror, which was recently shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize. The novel centres on a post-punk music venue in 1980s Melbourne and ‘explores the power of music, art and photography to shape our lives’.

Allen & Unwin’s UK arm has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding ANZ and Canada) to Sophie Hardcastle’s novel Below Deck, about woman and her experiences of life at sea during her 20s, which explores ‘the vagaries of consent, about who has space to speak, and who is believed’. The UK acquisition comes after ANZ rights to the novel were acquired by A&U Australia for a six-figure sum earlier this year.

Screen adaptations

Paramount Pictures has acquired the film rights to Adrian McKinty’s forthcoming crime-thriller The Chain (Hachette), which has already been sold into more than 30 countries. The Chain tells the story of Rachel, whose 11-year-old daughter has been kidnapped and will be released only when she kidnaps another child. She is now part of ‘The Chain’—‘a terrifying and meticulous chain letter-like kidnapping scheme that turns parents from victims into criminals’.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.


Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist announced

Five titles have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award ahead of the winner’s announcement on 30 July. They are: The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette), A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador), A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador), The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text), Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, University of Queensland Press) and Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador).

The shortlist has also been announced for the National Biography Award.

Trent Dalton’s novel Boy Swallows Universe (Fourth Estate) has won the Australian Booksellers Association Booksellers Choice Award. The novel, which is currently at the top of the Australian fiction bestsellers chart, has already won Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Indie Book Awards.

Pam Brown’s poetry collection click here for what we do (Vagabond) has won the Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal. The collection was praised by the judges for its ‘extension of the possibilities of poetic form’.


‘Boy Swallows Universe’ and ‘The Barefoot Investor’ top Australian charts

Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe and Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz continue to hold on to the first and second spots in the Australian fiction bestsellers chart in June, with a new paperback edition of Jane Harper’s The Lost Man in third. The release of new paperback editions of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers, Markus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay and Christian White’s The Nowhere Child have also propelled these bestsellers back into the charts. The only brand new titles in the top 10 are Maya Linnell’s debut rural fiction Wildflower Ridge, about a city girl forced to move back to her family farm; and Kayte Nunn’s The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, which travels between 1950s and the present day England and concerns the discovery of hidden love letters. In nonfiction, the only new entry in the chart is the cookbook 4 Ingredients Keto (Kim McCosker, 4 Ingredients).

Australian fiction bestsellers: June

  1. Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate)
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo Publishing)
  3. The Lost Man (Jane Harper, Pan)
  4. Nine Perfect Strangers (Liane Moriarty, Macmillan)
  5. Wildflower Ridge (Maya Linnell, Allen & Unwin)
  6. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  7. Bridge of Clay (Markus Zusak, Picador)
  8. The Nowhere Child (Christian White, Affirm Press)
  9. The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant (Kayte Nunn, Hachette)
  10. Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty, Pan)

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: June

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. Dark Emu (Bruce Pascoe, Magabala Books)
  3. Easy Keto (Pete Evans, Plum)
  4. 4 Ingredients Keto (Kim McCosker, 4 Ingredients)
  5. The Catalpa Rescue (Peter FitzSimons, Hachette)
  6. CSIRO Protein Plus (Jane Bowen & Professor G Brinkworth, Macmillan)
  7. The Barefoot Investor for Families (Scott Pape, HarperCollins)
  8. Any Ordinary Day (Leigh Sales, Hamish Hamilton)
  9. The Erratics (Vicki Laveau-Harvie, HarperCollins)
  10. Slow Cooker Central Family Favourites (Paulene Christie, ABC Books)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019
Period covered: 2­–29 June 2019
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide

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