The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

2019 Shortlist

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

Congratulations to the finalists! 

Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future (NewSouth) by Alice Gorman

Judges' comments 

In this engaging and original work, Alice Gorman takes the reader through her own journey towards a subject of study that speaks directly to our future: the increasingly cluttered space above our heads, thick with satellites and space junk. In looking up, Gorman sees a worrying reflection of what is happening on planet Earth, and asks how as a species we are going to transition to life beyond our planet. Will space already be polluted by the time we settle there? What social and cultural norms might apply beyond the rule of gravity? A simply written yet fascinating read.

An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold (Scribe) by Mary Hoban

Judges' comments 

A gripping biography of a colonial Tasmanian matriarch, Julia Sorell, which traces both the unravelling of her incendiary marriage to Tom Arnold and her unbreakable ties to her children and grandchildren who became some of the most famous novelists and scientists of their era. This is an intellectual Downton Abbey where religion, gender relations and politics shape the lives of all protagonists and show us, yet again, that history is always personal – that’s why there can never be certainty as to ‘what happened’.

Shakespeare’s Library: Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature (Text) by Stuart Kells

Judges' comments

Going in search of William Shakespeare's library is right up there with searching for the Yeti or the Tassie Tiger. Kells acknowledges the difficulties then sets out on his quixotic literary investigation into a mystery that has gripped Shakespeare scholars for centuries. Kells treats the subject matter as the mystery story that it is, making this an enthralling book and a captivating exploration of literature's most enduring enigma.

The Eastern Curlew (Affirm) by Harry Saddler 

Judges' comments 

This is a fascinating and beautifully written work that fuses memoir and ornithology in an enticing way. And while it may be about a particular bird, it is also a plaintive call to arms to protect species and the environments that sustain them. It is a vivid portrait of a fascinating natural phenomenon and a book that is full of wonder. And as the judges have noted it is a gorgeous production and one that makes the book itself a cherished artefact.

 

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia (HarperCollins) by Christina Thompson

Judges' comments

An evocative study of the ancient Polynesians and their pioneering epic voyages, Sea People is meticulously researched and beautifully written. Firmly centring the world’s greatest navigators in their own story, Christina Thompson explores the mysteries around Polynesian settlement in the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean.