4th October, 2022

The Book of the Year Award 2022: Shortlist Announcement

Sponsored by BookPeople and Ingram.

The Small Press Network is honoured to announce the shortlist for the 2022 Book of the Year Award (formerly the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award). The award was first presented under its new name in 2020, marking a new direction for the Small Press Network and its membership. BOTY aims to recognise and award some of the most significant and ground-breaking books being produced by Australian publishers and authors today.

The 2022 shortlisted titles are:

No Document

by Anwen Crawford (Giramondo)

Friends & Dark Shapes

by Kavita Bedford (Text Publishing)

Hometown Haunts 

edited by Poppy Nwosu (Wakefield Press)


by SJ Norman (UQP)

Gravidity and Parity

by Eleanor Jackson (Vagabond Press)

Theory of Colours

by Bella Li (Vagabond Press)

Sexy Tales of Paleontology

by Patrick Lenton (Subbed In)

The BOTY 2022 judges:

Penni Russon is an award-winning author and a senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. 

Bec Kavanagh is a writer, literary critic and academic; Youth Programming Manager at the Wheeler Centre; and sessional tutor at LaTrobe University.

Andrew Finegan is an advocate for the Australian arts and culture sector and a qualified librarian with more than 20 years of experience in education and government libraries. 

What they say of the shortlist: 

‘This year was a particularly strong one for Australia’s small press. The shortlist we have settled on speaks to the diversity of forms and the exciting experimentation in the small, people-powered publishing houses in Australia, but this shortlist is a mere peak on a mountain of novels, academic texts, poetry, non-fiction, children’s picture books and YA, all of which are doing interesting and wonderful things to expand our ideas about what the Australian publishing scene is up to.

No Document (Giramondo) is a grief-stricken book that tries to locate presence within the material layers of loss, finding hope in art, kinship and collective action. Anwen Crawford balances the emotional charge of the book with thoughtful experiments in how to use the field of the page to express and contain the way grief can be both intimate and political, a catalyst for resistance.

Friends & Dark Shapes (Text Publishing) is a coming-of-age story where the age is 30; Bedford captures the almost unendurably protracted end of things, the end of a life, the end of a relationship, the end of a sharehouse, the end of a way of being in, and with, the world.

Hometown Haunts (Wakefield Press) showcases some of the best voices Australian YA fiction has to offer in this sometimes strange, sometimes terrifying collection of short horror. This anthology acts as a reminder of how it feels to explore the unknown: unknown genre, unknown worlds, unknown lives. Editor Poppy Nwosu has compiled an anthology that celebrates and reflects the grassroots beginnings of Australian YA—raw, playful, and packing a hell of a punch.

Permafrost (UQP) is a collection of stories that delve into uncomfortable spaces that lie beneath familiar experiences of travel, love and loss. SJ Norman’s work presents an exciting, unsettling and engaging new voice that explores the human diasporic experience, bringing a queer and unique take on the gothic romantic tradition.

Gravidity and Parity (Vagabond Press) is a poignant and intricate collection of poetry that guides the reader into the journey of motherhood, pulling no punches in how it addresses and details all that is often unsaid or unknown about pregnancy. The book is set during the COVID pandemic, and author Eleanor Jackson beautifully encapsulates this all-too-familiar moment in recent history, reflecting on themes of connectedness and isolation.

Theory of Colours (Vagabond Press) is an impressive production, speaking to what Foucault called the necessity of conjuncture, two intensities coming together, a book that is constructed as much as it is written. Bella Li brings the visual and the verbal into contact to challenge the boundaries of poetry and visual design. 

Sexy Tales of Paleontology (Subbed In) is a laugh-out-loud delight. This anthology is full of surprises: stories that demonstrate a wicked sense of humour and a keen eye towards contemporary celebrity culture, and the performances that play out in our daily lives. Patrick Lenton uses the short story to experiment with the absurd realities of modernity.’

The BOTY 2022 winner will be presented in partnership with the Wheeler Centre as part of its Next Big Thing series, on 25 November 2022 at 6:30 pm, after the second day of this year’s SPN Independent Publishing Conference.

About the Sponsors:

BookPeople (formerly, The Australian Booksellers Association) is the official national body representing bookshops across Australia. Formed as a not-for-profit organisation, it provides education and training, advocacy, technical advice and marketing support of booksellers. It recognises and celebrates the special role that books and bookselling plays in society—creating community, supporting ideas and creativity, and opening doors to other worlds.

Ingram Content Group offers flexible, convenient print-on-demand solutions for publishers of all sizes, including distribution and other services. Ingram Spark is suitable for self-publishers and very small runs, whereas Ingram Lightning Source offers many options for larger-volume customers. 

About the Small Press Network:

Established in 2006, the Small Press Network is a representative body for over 250 small and independent publishers around Australia. It presents the Book of the Year Award (BOTY), previously the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award (MUBA), and has run the Independent Publishing Conference since 2012.

About the Independent Publishing Conference:

Now in its eleventh year, the 2022 Independent Publishing Conference is the Small Press Network’s first hybrid live/online conference. Tickets are available here.

Further information:

For media requests and more information on the Book of the Year Award, the Small Press Network and the Independent Publishing Conference, contact SPN general manager Tim Coronel at timcoronel@smallpressnetwork.com.au | 03 9094 7896 | 0418 696 786. 

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