I woke up this morning to an email from the lovely Liz Bray, who heads up Allen and Unwin’s children’s team, sharing news of the company’s triumphs at the Australian Book Industry awards.
For the tenth time in their twenty-year history, they won the Publisher of the Year Award. I have to say that, among other things (their focus on cake in the Alien Onion blog ; the fact that they’re based in Crow’s Nest in Sydney; their all-round niceness and decency; and their excellent sales team), the fact that they’d won this nine times was one of the reasons that I was keen for Allen and Unwin to be our distributor. So for them to win again in the first year of our association is a terrific validation of that decision – not that any was needed, frankly: they’re a joy to work with and sales are great.
Alison Lester won Book of the Year for Younger Children for Noni the Pony (pictured below). This is a simple rhyming picture book that’s really charming by an established Australian talent.
Ahn Do won three awards: 2011 Book of the Year for The Happiest Refugee ; 2011 Biography of the Year (jointly with Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy); and 2011 Newcomer of the Year. The Happiest Refugee had, the previous night, won the 2011 Bookseller’s Choice Award. A retelling of the early part of his autobiography – his escape from war-torn Vietnam and arrival in Australia – will be published in picture book form for children as The Little Refugee.
Kate Morton, who’s an international bestseller, won 2011 General Fiction Book of The Year for The Distant Hours.
This is an awards-haul that points up the degree to which Australia is a separate book market, with its own tastes, celebrities, history and heroes.
So big congratulations to Allen and Unwin and a big “hooray” for the Australian book market.