The Most Underrated Book Award 2017

Each year the Small Press Network presents the Most Underrated Book Award. The award, now in its sixth year, is designed to shine a light on a book that did not received the attention it deserved at the time of release.

Key dates for 2017: 

Entries open 1 May (Open to SPN members.)
Entries close 3 July
Shortlist announced 19 October
Winner announced 17 November at the Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne

‘Creating Cities’ wins MUBA 2016!

The Small Press Network (SPN) is delighted to announce Creating Cities by Marcus Westbury has won the fifth annual Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA), sponsored by Booktopia.

The winner was chosen by the judging panel of author Toni Jordan, former young bookseller of  the year Megan O’Brien, and Books and Arts Daily producer Sarah L’Estrange.

Westbury receives a $500 cash prize thanks to sponsor Booktopia. The winner was announced on Friday 11 November at the Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne.


About the shortlisted books

man-made-of-batsA Man Made Entirely of Bats

by Patrick Lenton


Patrick Lenton’s debut collection of short stories and flash fiction merges the comedic, the absurd and the surreal.

First published by Spineless Wonders in March 2015, A Man Made Entirely of Bats defies narrative convention, humorously weaving fairytale, horror and superhero genres.

Lenton is a regular contributor to The Spontaneity Review, Junkee, The Guardian, Daily Life and The Sydney Morning Herald. His fiction and memoir pieces have been published in The Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Comedy Writing, The Lifted Brow, Voiceworks, The Canary Press and Scum Mag. His work has been shortlisted for numerous literary awards including the Viva Novella Prize, The Novella Project, The Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and many more.

Lenton was awarded the ROFL Canadian Club Comedy Award at the 2010 Sydney Fringe Festival and in 2015

was the recipient of the Thiel Grant for Online Writing. Lenton is also currently undertaking the massive task of reviewing every book read by Rory Gilmore in the television series Gilmore Girls over at Going Down Swinging (‘The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge’).

ClClancyancy of the Undertow

by Christopher Currie

YA fiction

Brisbane-based writer, blogger and bookseller Christopher Currie released his first young adult novel in November 2015, his follow-up to adult novel The Ottoman Motel – both of which are published by Text Publishing. Clancy is the titular heroine of Clancy of the Undertow, a sixteen-year-old misfit living in a dead-end Queensland town, populated by traditional ‘bogans’ and small-minded individuals. Currie’s novel is a coming-of-age story with a strikingly vivid, young voice that delicately deals with a teenager’s sexual awakening. The book was longlisted for the Gold Inky award in 2016.

Currie’s first novel The Ottoman Motel was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Queensland Literary Awards in 2012. The novel’s dedications page also featured a bold marriage proposal to his girlfriend, which garnered much attention (and was accepted!).

creating-citiesCreating Cities

by Marcus Westbury


It was only a few years ago that the future of Newcastle’s city centre was looking dire, with more than a hundred and fifty empty buildings lining the CBD’s two main streets. After taking a trip to his hometown back in 2008, Marcus Westbury created the innovative not-for-profit organisation Renew Newcastle.

Since its inception, Renew Newcastle has licenced over seventy buildings and found temporary homes for over one

hundred and seventy artistic enterprises. While Renew Newcastle helped these organisations find their footing and

gave them a space to share their work, it also generated significant interest in the formerly desolate city centre. Less than a decade later and Newcastle’s CBD is a thriving community.

The crowd-funded book Creating Cities details Newcastle’s incredible transformation and discusses how Renew Newcastle’s business model can be applied nationally. Creating Cities was published by Niche Press in August 2015 after Westbury raised the money to write and publish the book using the Pozible crowdfunding platform. Before writing the book, Westbury spent many years as a director for Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, the This Is Not Art Festival in Newcastle, and the Cultural Festival of the Commonwealth Games. His cultural and political

writing has been featured in Griffith Review, Meanjin, Crikey, Volume, Desktop, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

floating-gardenThe Floating Garden

by Emma Ashmere


Published by Spinifex Press in May 2015, Emma Ashmere’s debut novel The Floating Garden is a beautiful mediation on grief, guilt and regret, set against the backdrop of Milsons Point, Sydney, in 1926.

Protagonist Ellis Gilby is a gardening columnist residing in the small community and is one of the unlucky

residents to be faced with the imminent demolition of her home—to make way for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Floating Garden alternates between Ellis’ past and present, juxtaposing her story with that of

Rennie Howarth, a young English artist suffering abuse at the hands of her privileged Australian husband.

Ashmere has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Adelaide and a PhD on the use of marginalised history in fiction from La Trobe University. She has worked as a researcher on Green Pens and Reading the Garden

and has had several short stories published in The Age, the Review of Australian Fiction, GriffithReview, Etchings, Sleepers Almanac and Text Journal.

The winner of the 2016 Most Underrated Book Award will be announced at 6pm Friday 11 November 2016 at the Wheeler Centre. The announcement is a free event – book your place here.

About the award
Open to all members of the Small Press Network, the Most Underrated Book Award is designed to highlight titles that did not garner the sales or recognition they deserved at the time of release.

About the sponsor
Founded in 2004, Booktopia ( is Australia’s home-grown, leading online bookstore and regularly donates to literacy charities and organisations.

About the conference
SPN’s Independent Publishing conference ran from 9-12 November at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. Next year’s conference will run from 15 to 18 November 2017.

About the judges
A prolific author in her own right, Toni Jordan has published four novels since 2008, Addition  (2000), Fall Girl (2010), Nine Days (2012) and Our Tiny, Useless Hearts (2016). As a producer of Books and Arts Daily on ABC Radio National and during five years on The Book Show, Sarah L’Estrange has carved out a lucrative career in the arts. Rounding out our trio of  esteemed judges is Megan O’Brien, 2012’s Australian Booksellers Association Random House Young Bookseller of the Year.


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Last Year's Winner

Creating CitiesMarcus Westbury

Creating Cities by Marcus Westbury, published by Niche Press, won the 2016 Most Underrated Book Award.