Voting is now closed in this year's The Courier-Mail People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award, where the winner is determined by public vote. The title that receives the most votes wins the $10,000 prize.
A Lifetime of Impossible Days
Tabitha Bird (Penguin Random House)
Willa receives a mysterious gift and plants an ocean in her backyard that allows her to slip seamlessly between her past and future selves in this glorious blend of literary fiction and magical realism. A touching and compassionate story of the legacy of family trauma but also the healing power of love, truth and self-forgiveness. Childlike wonder, vulnerability, innocence and optimism, run through with a dark seam of secrets.
The Kowloon Kid
Phil Brown (Transit Lounge)
A tender and often hilarious memoir of life in a bygone era – colonial Hong Kong. At a time when this city is again central to world geopolitics, Brown’s memoir of growing up in 1960s Hong Kong reminds us just how fast the world has changed. Nostalgia can be dangerous, but Brown is too clever a writer for that: this is a delightful portrait of an innocence that is at the same time aware of its great good fortune, and of the seismic shifts occurring just below the surface of that vanished world.
A River with a City Problem
Margaret Cook (UQP)
An absorbing history of Brisbane River floods – 1893, 1974 and 2011 – and the failure of human attempts to tame and manage powerful natural forces. The city and its surrounding towns built on and around a broad floodplain will not avoid the next flood, just as they were devastated by the earlier ones. Poor city planning, inappropriate development and over-reliance on a dam emphasise that the problem is the location of the city, not the presence of the river.
Feeding the Birds at Your Table
Darryl Jones (NewSouth Publishing)
Jones has written a lively, science-based guide which meshes beautifully with his previous book, The Birds At My Table. He explains how birds are adapting to urban environments so it is not harmful to engage with them and feed them in our gardens or from our balconies. As he says, millions of us already do this so he provides advice about how to do it properly. There are lists of ideal food, feeders, what-not-to-dos, and heartening insights from an enthusiastic bird-feeder himself. This book is full of useful information for city bird lovers.
Meet Me at Lennon’s
Melanie Myers (UQP)
A story of wartime Brisbane and the women who lived through it, the novel centres on the murder of a young woman. Myers takes an historian’s approach to her material, tracing the connections between her characters and leaving a trail of clues for the attentive reader. Well-researched, intriguing, plausible and relevant.
The Breeding Season
Amanda Niehaus (Allen & Unwin)
A gripping, character-driven novel about grief, healing and isolation following a couple’s loss of their child. Atmospheric language and unusual syntax evoke the myriad of conflicting emotions as these characters try to find their way back to themselves. Complex, poignant, and as much about life as it is about death.
Stone Sky Gold Mountain
Mirandi Riwoe (UQP)
A vital re-telling of Australia’s gold rush history from the perspective of Chinese sibling immigrants, interwoven with a white woman’s story of social exile. It examines our often violent and racist past with sensitivity and compassion. Highly engaging characters allow the reader to identify with their circumstances and to hear voices often silenced by history.
Jessica White (UWA Publishing)
Hearing Maud is hearing the deaf. Jessica White, as a deaf author, wants to tell us that deafness is an expansive and complex concept that is so much more than simply not being able to hear or hear ‘normally’. Alongside her childhood and growth to womanhood she places the life of Maud Praed born a century earlier. Gently and without ego she weaves together their two stories and surrounding familial constellations and confronts us with the struggles, hardship and sometimes terror of being the ‘outsider’. The author’s own memoir never overshadows Maud’s biography, yet White’s enlightenment glows with the salutary learning that comes from truly listening to the lives of others.