Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 13, 2019

2019 Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award longlist

Thanks to a Tweet from @BPlusBNews, here are the nominees for the 2019 NIB Award administered by the Waverley Library.

The award recognises the role of research in fiction and nonfiction.  I wonder how they choose this?  Is it the concept of a ‘best book’ or do they consider how complicated the research might be?  It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when the judges are deliberating, eh?

It’s a long longlist, and I haven’t read most of them!

  • An Unconventional Wife: The life of Julia Sorrell Arnold (Mary Hoban, Scribe)
  • Imperfect: How our bodies shape the people we become (Lee Kofman, Affirm), see Theresa’s review at Theresa Smith Writes
  • Reasonable Doubt: Spies, Police and the Croatian Six (Hamish McDonald, Doosra Media)
  • A Spanner in the works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia’s first all-girl garage (Loretta Smith, Hachette)
  • Honeysuckle Creek: The Story of Tom Reid, a little dish and Neil Armstrong’s first step (Andrew Tink, NewSouth)
  • No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (Behrouz Boochani, Picador), see Bill’s review at The Australian Legend
  • City of Trees: Essays on life, death and the need for a forest (Sophie Cunningham, Text), see my ANZ LitLovers review
  • The World was Whole (Fiona Wright, Giramondo), see Jonathan’s review at Me Fail? I Fly!
  • Her Mother’s Daughter: A memoir (Nadia Wheatley, Text), see Sue’s review at Whispering Gums
  • The Arsonist (Chloe Hooper, Hamish Hamilton), see my ANZ LitLovers review
  • Troll Hunting (Ginger Gorman, Hardie Grant)
  • What Will Be Worn: A McWhirters story (Melissa Fagan, Transit Lounge)
  • King of the Air: The turbulent life of Charles Kingsford Smith (Ann Blainey, Black Inc.)
  • Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the future (Alice Gorman, NewSouth)
  • Steve Smith’s Men (Geoff Lemon, Hardie Grant)
  • Books that saved my life: Reading for wisdom, solace and pleasure (Michael McGirr, Text)
  • Exploded View (Carrie Tiffany, Text), see Fiona Wright’s review at the Sydney Review of Books

The shortlist will be announced on August 31st, and the winner on November 14th.  (The winner receives $20,000 and shortlisted authors receive the Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize of $1000 each.)

Congratulations to all the authors, editors, publishers and researchers!



  1. No Friend but the Mountains is an excellent book but I don’t think it required much research. Mary Hoban, the first author listed, wrote a biography of Caroline Chisholm published in 1973. I wasn’t able to find out much about her except, “won inaugural Hazel Rowley Memorial Fellowship (in 2012)”


    • It’s interesting, isn’t it? I wonder about how much or what type of research is involved in some others of these. But then there’s research which is ‘easy’ compared to research which is elusive. So quantity of research can be a tricky criterion to use.


  2. I have reviewed Imperfect by Lee Kofman! That’s one on the list for me.


  3. Is it that time again? This is an intriguing award isn’t it? I’d join you as a fly on the wall.

    Thanks for the link.


    • I’m sure someone has reviewed the Fiona Wright essays, can you remember who?


      • I have, here. Thinking about the research involved is interesting: though the essays are intensely personal, they also constantly introduce statistics and other information to place the personal experience in context.


        • I knew it! Though why I haven’t commented on your review I do not know…I shall have to rectify that!
          I am starting to think that the issue of research is one I should pester Sue about, it seems perfect for a Monday Musings to me.
          You see, I’m reading a new book by Stefan (War and Turpentine) Hartmans… he calls a novel, but it seems like more of a modern bio to me, that is, one where the biographer has inserted himself into the story. (Not that I presume to tell the author what his book is, of course!) But it’s the kind of book where the narrator is writing about his research into something that happened a very long time ago, and the difficulties thereof, and I am resisting the temptation to read the acknowledgements or to Google stuff to see whether some or any of it is based on biographical reality or whether Hartmans is messing with my mind and the entire thing including the ‘researcher’ is fictional.
          The other thing is, is it research when an author drives around trying to get ‘a feel’ for a place when there are no traces of what was there 1000 years ago? I kind of feel it is, but I bet the ATO would have other ideas if a novelist put in a claim for wandering around in congenial French villages…


          • I read that sly little reference to giving me another job!

            I’ll add the idea to the MM list which has so many bibs and bobs in it now but when Monday comes around it’s a case of what do I have the time to do. Not that I write them all on Monday but some I do. Sometimes I get organised ahead of time!

            It is an interesting issue, but I’ll have to think about an angle – which I guess could stem from this prize.

            Re Hartmans, the one thing I’d say it that I’d prefer writers err on novel if there’s any doubt that they are playing with facts. Not only is it more honest, since even non-fiction isn’t always “true”, but it adds to the fun and challenge of the reading. At least I think it does.


            • *chuckle* That’s me, subtle as a sledgehammer:)
              Yes, that’s a good point about erring with a tag of fiction rather than NF. Though it’s interesting, isn’t it, how far we have come just in my lifetime of reading, where the lines between the two are so blurred.


              • It really is, Lisa – we’ve been around for a while now haven’t we – and it tickles me rather!


      • Whew, I thought so too but I was thinking Theresa, Kate or Kim! Not Jonathan!


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: