Congratulations to the finalists!
The Other Half of You by Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Hachette Australia)
A father’s love letter to his son, The Other Half of You is a potent tale of the conflict between love and responsibility. The novel reveals Western Sydney and its many tribes with unguarded humour, stinging satire, and big heart. Navigating inherited expectations and guilt, exploring relationships within and beyond Arab-Australian communities, and crossing the lines of faith and family, The Other Half of You is infused with a brand of honesty, conviction, and spirit that is rarely found elsewhere. The work of a masterly writer.
Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au (Giramondo Publishing)
A meticulously observed novel in which an unnamed woman and her mother visit Japan. The narrator’s gentle but persistent attempts to connect with her mother are echoed in their experiences of the various landscapes, restaurants, galleries, and gift stores. Disconnection, disappointment, and gentle hope are – in the end – quietly devastating.
The Furies by Mandy Beaumont (Hachette Australia)
The Furies is a ferocious story of female emancipation amid the hard facts of outback life. We meet Cynthia, the damaged daughter, who endures the grief of losing her family to violence. The convention-breaking prose is spare and brutal and astonishing. It’s a vital call to arms.
The Keepers by Al Campbell (University of Queensland Press)
A powerful exploration of how the cycle of intergenerational abuse can be splintered through sacrifice and love. Full of chaotic, metaphysical scenes that reflect the aching fear and grind of life with mental illness interspersed with scathing, wry humour and the joy shared between a mother and her neurodiverse twins.
Australiana by Yumna Kassab (Ultimo Press)
A soaring, atmospheric novel of rural life, told through vignettes that constantly surprise. Australiana follows the lives of small-town people through floods and droughts and emotional disasters, building to an unpredictable crescendo. Actions resonate through the community and across time. A quintessentially Australian novel for the twenty-first century.