The queen of Australian popular fiction, Di Morrissey, was “stunned, so thrilled and grateful” to be inducted into the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Hall of Fame tonight. It was coincidentally, she said, the anniversary of her late uncle, editor and mentor “Gentleman” Jim Revitt’s birthday, which made the occasion feel especially poignant.
Di (who started out as a journalist for The Weekly) was presented with the Lloyd O’Neil Award for service to the Australian book industry by her good friend, fellow author and neighbour, Tom Keneally. He reminded the assembled literati that Di’s novels, including Tears Of The Moon and Kimberley Sun, “have been loved by hundreds of thousands of Australians”. They have also communicated her heartfelt connection with the Australian landscape and sold more than three million copies internationally.
Legendary rocker, Jimmy Barnes, was another winner at tonight’s ABIA ceremony at the Art Gallery of NSW. He picked up Biography of the Year for his best-seller, Working Class Boy, the writing of which, he said, was one of the most difficult, heart-breaking and healing things he’s ever done. “There are a lot of things that I wish I didn't remember ...” he said.
Jane Harper, who set the literary world alight with her debut crime novel, The Dry, picked up the General Fiction prize and Book of the Year. And the Literary Fiction prize was awarded to Dominic Smith for his masterful The Last Painting Of Sara De Vos.
Clementine Ford’s Fight Like A Girl secured her place as Australia’s new-breed feminist “it” girl and tonight it won the prestigious Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the year. The night’s General Non-fiction winner was journalist Niki Savva for her controversial unpacking of federal politics, The Road To Ruin: How Tony Abbott And Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government.
The Illustrated Book of the Year award went to Penguin Bloom, The Odd Little Bird Who Saved A Family, which regular readers will remember from The Weekly’s May 2017 issue. It tells the life-changing story of Sam and Cameron Bloom, their three boys and a magpie called Penguin.
Finally, three awards for this year’s best reads for kids went to: Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton for their massive hit with the under-eights, The 78-Storey Treehouse; Zana Fraillon for a powerful story about children in detention, The Bone Sparrow; and Damon Young for the cool and quirky My Sister Is A Superhero.
How many can you tick off your list?