The 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards shortlist has just been announced, and it pretty much reads like my ARC wishlist. Although the awards cover a variety of categories, including children’s books, non-fiction, illustrated works, young adult and the like, the two categories of most interest to me are the General Fiction Book of the Year, and Literary Fiction Book of the Year.
The contenders for those categories are,
General fiction book of the year
- The Lake House (Kate Morton, A&U)
- Close Your Eyes (Michael Robotham, Sphere)
- The Perfumer’s Secret (Fiona McIntosh, Michael Joseph)
- The Patterson Girls (Rachael Johns, Mira)
Literary fiction book of the year
- The Natural Way of Things (Charlotte Wood, A&U)
- The Other Side of the World (Stephanie Bishop, Hachette)
- The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks, Hachette)
- The World Without Us (Mireille Juchau, Bloomsbury)
Brooks is a pretty safe bet in my opinion. She has already taken out the Pulitzer Prize for her 2006 novel ‘March‘, and her ‘People of the Book’ is up there as one of the best I have ever read. She has an amazing gift for storytelling, which weaves vivid characters together in the most unlikely ways. Her worlds are always so rich with historic fact that they feel so authentic, yet retain a beautiful, wistful quality. They are in some way almost nostalgic, making you miss people and places you have never experienced.
And that brings me to the reasoning behind picking Morton’s ‘The Lake House’, whose ‘The Forgotten Garden’ was a beautiful read that I recommended to every passing stranger at the time of its release. Morton has a similar approach to Brooks with historical fiction, giving her characters authenticity through accurate period details. A lighter read than Brooks however, Morton is perhaps more accessible to a wider audience. It’s the kind of book I’d recommend for someone wanting an ‘easy read’ who can’t quite bring themselves to read ‘Chick Lit’. Enough substance to enthrall, yet able to be devoured over a weekend.
I’ll be interested to see who takes out the awards, which are announced on the 18th of May.