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Inside the Australian book industry

Melbourne Writers Festival interrogates love

‘When We Talk About Love’ is the heart-interrogating theme of this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival, which runs from 30 August to 8 September, with sessions that explore ‘our love for people, sex, politics and country through conversations, new writing, music and immersive events’, as well as a full day of romance programming. This is the second festival from director Marieke Hardy, who said of the theme: ‘Love stirs our creative spirits, brings us to our knees, inspires songs and sonnets and paintings and volumes, and breaks us into tiny pieces and glues us back together again with gold adhesive.’

Australia’s prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award has been announced (see awards), with rights interest and a screen deal swiftly following. Melissa Lucashenko, who won for her novel Too Much Lip, is the third Indigenous author to win in the award’s history.

The shortlist for the Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA) has also been revealed. This unique award aims to ‘uncover and celebrate the hidden gems of Australian publishing’. ‘It is often small presses who take risks and the results—evident in this year’s shortlist—are richly rewarding and worthwhile reads,’ said the judges. The winner will be announced at the Small Press Network’s Independent Publishing Conference in November.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian


Advertise in PW’s Frankfurt Show Dailies

Publishers Weekly’s title showcase is a way for publishers, agents and self-publishers to affordably advertise in PW’s Frankfurt issues, including its three Show Dailies, which are distributed at the fair. PW is currently offering Think Australian readers US$50 off the price of a title showcase ad (use the promo code BANDP). For more information and to book, visit the website here.

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‘Axiomatic’ sold to UK’s Fitzcarraldo Editions

Small press Brow Books has sold UK and Commonwealth rights (ex ANZ) to Maria Tumarkin’s Axiomatic—‘a boundary-shifting fusion of thinking, storytelling, reportage and meditation’—to independent publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions. The deal follows the sale of North American, Spanish-language and Greek-language rights. Brow Books publisher Sam Cooney said: ‘Fitzcarraldo is a remarkably perfect fit for Axiomatic: anyone who has read this extraordinary book will know that Maria Tumarkin sits very comfortably on Fitzcarraldo’s list alongside contemporary writers like Svetlana Alexievich, Olga Tokarczuk, Claire-Louise Bennett and Ben Lerner.’


Penguin Random House Australia has acquired world rights to Kyle Perry’s debut crime/suspense thriller The Bluffs—about a group of troubled teenagers who go missing in the Tasmanian wilderness—in a two-book deal. PRH publisher Ali Watts said, ‘This is a hugely exciting acquisition for us, in a genre that is so hot right now and from a cracking new author talent who has a fascinating other life as a youth worker and counsellor.’

Hachette has acquired ANZ rights to Victoria Hannan’s debut novel Kokomo—winner of the prestigious Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript—in a two-book deal. Kokomo follows Mina as she returns home to Melbourne after finding out her agoraphobic mother has left the house for the first time in 12 years.

Screen adaptations

Melissa Lucashenko’s Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning novel Too Much Lip (UQP)—see awards—has been optioned for screen by Cenozoic Pictures, with Lucashenko to assist with the script. ‘We couldn’t be happier with Cenozoic’s sympathy and vision for Melissa’s fierce (and funny) dark book,’ said Lucashenko’s agent, Alex Adsett.

Dancing Road Productions has optioned screen rights to Garry Disher’s crime novel Bitter Wash Road (Text), a modern western set in an isolated Australian bush town with a soaring crime rate. Bitter Wash Road is published by Soho Press in North America and Unionsverlag in Germany—where it won a major German crime prize—and will be published by Serpent’s Tail in the UK next year.

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


‘Too Much Lip’ wins Miles Franklin Literary Award

Melissa Lucashenko has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for her darkly funny novel Too Much Lip (UQP), about a woman who returns to her hometown after an armed robbery gone awry to farewell her dying father. The judges said Too Much Lip is ‘driven by personal experience, historical injustice, anger and what in Indigenous vernacular could be described as “deadly Blak” humour’.

Behrouz Boochani’s memoir No Friend but the Mountains (Picador)—an account of the Iranian refugee’s incarceration on Manus Island by the Australian government—has won the National Biography Award. The judges praised Boochani’s book for its ‘poetic and epic writing’, calling it ‘profoundly important, an astonishing act of witness and testament to the lifesaving power of writing as resistance’.

The shortlist for the the Colin Roderick Award for Australian writing has been announced. The shortlisted titles are: Sun Music: New & Selected Poems (Judith Beveridge, Giramondo), Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate), The True Colour of the Sea (Robert Drewe, Hamish Hamilton), The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text) and Dinner with the Dissidents (John Tesarsch, Affirm Press).

The shortlist for the Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA)—which aims to ‘uncover and celebrate the hidden gems of Australian publishing’—has been announced. The shortlisted titles are: Brontide (Sue McPherson, Magabala), Antidote to a Curse (James Cristina, Transit Lounge) and Songwoman (Ilka Tampke, Text).

Several Australian authors are in the running for UK prizes. Chris Hammer’s novel Scrublands (Allen & Unwin) has been shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger Awards and Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Echo) has been shortlisted for the Glass Bell Award for contemporary fiction.

Also announced in the past month:

  • The winners of the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year awards
  • The shortlists for the Davitt Awards for crime books by Australian women
  • The longlists for the Ned Kelly Awards for Australian crime writing.

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

Australian fiction bestsellers: July

There are 10 new entries across the Australian fiction and nonfiction bestsellers charts in July. In fiction, it’s all about the thriller: Petronella McGovern’s debut suburban thriller Six Minutes; bestselling author Michael Robotham’s psychological thriller Good Girl, Bad Girl; Kerry McGinnis’ outback mystery The Roadhouse; and Nicola Moriarty’s relationship thriller The Ex. In nonfiction, new entries include Niki Savva’s account of the toppling of former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Plots and Players; Stephanie Wood’s investigation into duplicitous suiters, Fake; and the biography of youth worker Bernie Shakeshaft, Back on Track: How one man and his dogs are changing the lives of rural kids (with James Knight).

  1. Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate)
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo Publishing)
  3. Six Minutes (Petronella McGovern, Allen & Unwin)
  4. Nine Perfect Strangers (Liane Moriarty, Macmillan)
  5. The Lost Man (Jane Harper, Pan)
  6. Good Girl, Bad Girl (Michael Robotham, Hachette)
  7. The Roadhouse (Kerry McGinnis, Michael Joseph)
  8. The Ex (Nicola Moriarty, HarperCollins)
  9. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  10. The Nowhere Child (Christian White, Affirm Press)

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: July

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. 4 Ingredients Keto (Kim McCosker, 4 Ingredients)
  3. Plots and Prayers (Niki Savva, Scribe)
  4. Dark Emu (Bruce Pascoe, Magabala Books)
  5. Easy Keto (Pete Evans, Plum)
  6. Fake (Stephanie Wood, Vintage)
  7. Back on Track (Bernie Shakeshaft & James Knight, Hachette)
  8. The Barefoot Investor for Families (Scott Pape, HarperCollins)
  9. Heal (Pete Evans, Plum)
  10. On Eating Meat (Matthew Evans, Murdoch Books)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019 (Period covered: 20 June to 27 July 2019)
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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