2015 ACT Book of the Year Award - winner and shortlist

Congratulations to Mark Henshaw, whose novel The Snow Kimono was announced as the winner of the 2015 ACT Book of the Year Award at the ACT Writers Centre awards night on 17 December 2015.

The ACT Book of the Year Award recognises quality contemporary literary works by local authors. It is an Award for excellence in literature and offers prize money of $10,000.

The Award complements the aim of the 2015 ACT Arts Policy for the ACT to be a diverse and dynamic arts ecology which is valued locally, nationally and globally.

The judging panel of Kathryn Heyman, Justine Moloney and Chris Hammer read, shortlisted, and selected the winning book and commented on the diversity of writing talent in the ACT, which continues to contribute high quality works of national significance to the literary landscape.

The panel praised The Snow Kimono as a polished work of thoughtful consideration that is accomplished, intriguing and well-resolved. The Snow Kimono also received the NSW Premier's Literary Award last year.

The panel also highly commended Omar Musa’s Here Come the Dogs. The panel enjoyed its unsentimental depiction of characters that provided depth and honesty to the narrative. Omar receives $2,000 for being highly commended.

Canberra region readers also enjoyed Omar’s book, which has also been named the 'People's Choice', with more than 700 people voting.

To be shortlisted for the ACT Book of the Year Award is a mark of quality writing and dedication to craft. For the first time, prize money of $1,000 is awarded to the shortlisted authors Jono Lineen, for Into the Heart of the Himalayas, and Sam Vincent for Blood and Guts.

The 2015 winning and shortlisted books:

The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw (cover photo) 

The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw - Winner, 2015 ACT Book of the Year

Panel comment: The Snow Kimono is a polished work of thoughtful consideration, accomplished, intriguing and well-resolved. It entices the reader with elegant mystery.

About the book - courtesy of Text Publishing: ‘Paris: 1989. Recently retired Inspector of Police Auguste Jovert receives a letter from a woman who claims to be his daughter. Two days later, a stranger comes knocking on his door. Set in Paris and Japan, The Snow Kimono tells the stories of Inspector Jovert, former Professor of Law Tadashi Omura, and his one-time friend the writer Katsuo Ikeda. All three men have lied to themselves, and to each other. And these lies are about to catch up with them.’

About the author: Mark Henshaw’s first novel, Out of the Line of Fire (1988), won the FAW Barbara Ramsden Award and the NBC New Writers Award. It was one of the biggest selling Australian literary novels of the decade. In 1989, Mark was awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fellowship and in 1994, he won the ACT Literary Award. For many years Mark was a curator at the National Gallery of Australia and has recently returned to writing fiction full-time. The Snow Kimono was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and was the winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction.

Mark Henshaw (author photo). Image: Andrew Sikorski 

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa (cover photo)

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa - Highly Commended and People's Choice

Panel comment: Here Come the Dogs combines striking images with memorable moments of rhythm. The unsentimental depiction of characters provides depth and honesty to the narrative.

About the book - courtesy of Penguin Books Australia: ‘In small town suburbia, three young men are ready to make their mark. Solomon is all charisma, authority and charm, down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family and his homeland, and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line? Solomon, Jimmy and Aleks: way out on the fringe of Australia, looking for a way in. Hip hop and graffiti give them a voice.

About the author: Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan. A former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and Indian Ocean Poetry Slam, he has performed extensively around the country and internationally. Here Come the Dogs was long listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and he was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

Omar Musa (author photo)

Into the Heart of the Himalayas by Jono Lineen (cover photo) 

Into the Heart of the Himalayas by Jono Lineen - Shortlist

Panel comment: Into the Heart of the Himalayas is an honest, heartfelt record of a personal journey; a poignant exploration of travel, grief and mortality. 

About the book - courtesy of Melbourne University Press: ‘When Jono Lineen's brother died in tragic circumstances, he gave up a comfortable life, moved to the Himalayas and over eight years immersed himself in the cultures of the world's highest mountains.’

About the author: Jono Lineen is a writer, curator and public speaker whose passion for landscape and humankind's connection to it inspires his writing. He worked for years as a project manager for Médecins Sans Frontières in war and disaster zones around the world. Currently he is a curator at the National Museum of Australia. He is the author of River Trilogy: Travels Down Three of the World's Greatest Rivers.

Into the Heart of the Himalayas by Jono Lineen (author photo) 

Blood and Guts 

Blood and Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent - Shortlist

Panel comment: Blood and Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars is first person journalism at its best. Incisive and entertaining, it brings a personal perspective to a global issue.

About the book - courtesy of Black Inc Books: ‘In Blood and Guts, Sam Vincent plunges into the whale wars. Vincent sets sail with Sea Shepherd, led by the charismatic and abrasive Paul Watson. He attends the recent case at the International Court of Justice, which finds Japan's 'scientific' whaling in the southern Ocean to be unlawful. And he travels to Japan to investigate why its government doggedly continues to bankroll the unprofitable hunt.’

About the author: Sam Vincent is a freelance travel writer and investigative journalist. He is a regular contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age and has a degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He has been published in the Monthly and the Griffith Review. When not travelling, he works as a researcher and editor at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Sam Vincent (author photo) 

For further information on the ACT Book of the Year Award, please contact artsACT on (02) 6207 2384 or email artsACT@act.gov.au