The 2016 Most Underrated Book Award shortlist
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 2015was 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’).
by Christopher Currie
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!).
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.
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, Griffith Review, 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.