Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 26, 2020

2020 Small Press Network’s Book of the Year Award winner and shortlist

Update 16/12/20: And the winner is


Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island’s Soul by Pete Hay (Walleah Press), and you can buy it here.

This is the blurb:

One of Tasmania’s great, distinctive voices. Pete Hay illuminates the island in remarkable fashion, enriching our understanding of its history, culture, politics and environment.

Tim Bonyhady

Pete Hay is pre-eminent among the guardians of Tasmania’s island’s spirit, his fierce intelligence and compassionate heart resisting those who would ravage, exploit and appropriate its natural beauty, cultural creativity and fraught history for profit and power. Animals and ancestors, people and plants, the lost and the loved, the humus and the human, the artist and the artefact, the books and the birds, the sadness and the stillness, the past and the possible, the humour and the horror all find voice in ‘Forgotten Corners’.

Sponsored by the Australian Booksellers Association and ArtsHub, the Small Press Network’s Book of the Year Award 2020 has just been announced.

From the press release
The Small Press Network is honoured to announce the shortlist for the 2020 Book of the Year Award. Formerly the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award, The Book of Year Award marks a new direction for the Small Press Network and its membership. It aims to recognise and award some of the most significant and ground-breaking books being published by local independent publishers today.

The 2020 shortlisted titles are:

The BOTY 2020 judges, (previously the 2019 MUBA judges), Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang say of the shortlist:

‘An extraordinary range of titles was submitted for the inaugural Small Press Network Book of the Year Award—five times as many as for last year’s Most Underrated Book Award. We read books for children, self-help books, books about soldiers and ballet dancers, novels set in western Sydney, Gaza, South Africa, and imaginary worlds. We read non-fiction about elections, trees, and First Nations family life and language, and poetry from middle-aged farmers and inner-city millennials.

Our shortlist could not take in every book we admired. But we’re proud of the list we settled on: poetic and political essays from a much-loved Tasmanian writer; a graphic novel that transforms the quotidian into the profound; short stories that turn a keen eye on life in Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora; poetry about food, love and identity; a gorgeously illustrated children’s guide to the landscapes and lives of Darug country; a complex, compelling novel about a mysterious reform school; and a cycle of poems following a woman’s relationship with her mother and language.

Australian readers are lucky to have so many brilliant books to choose from, and we applaud the efforts of small presses in bringing these stories to light.’

The winner of #BOTY20 will be presented at a virtual ceremony on the 10th of December 2020.

As part of their generous sponsorship, ArtsHub is offering a free one-year membership to all the shortlisted authors and their publishers. Thanks to ArtsHub and the Australian Booksellers Association, the overall winner of the Book of the Year will receive $1000 to the author and $1000 to the publisher.

About the Sponsors:
The Australian Booksellers Association is the official national body representing bookshops across Australia. Formed as a non-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.

ArtsHub is Australia’s leading online resource dedicated to the arts. Originally a small jobs bulletin that covered the performing arts, it grew into the go-to site for arts news, opportunities and facilities. The team at ArtsHub pursues a vision for a dynamic, diverse and prosperous arts culture and industry.

About the Small Press Network:
Established in 2006, the Small Press Network is a representative body for small 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.

Many thanks to publicist Tim Coronel who sent this ahead of time to enable me to prepare it for posting!


  1. Hi Lisa,

    Here’s the link to my review of ‘The Subjects’.

    I need a search box on the blog don’t I? … I’ll look into it tomorrow.



    • Thank you, and yes please!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Done! There is now a search box immediately under the calendar on the right hand side :-)


  2. How reassuring to know that small presses are getting recognised in this way. It’s so hard for them to make their voices heard up against all the big guns who have large marketing budgets and can afford to enter the prestige awards


    • Indeed it is, Karen, and what’s more, it’s mostly the small presses that publish the most interesting books IMO.


  3. Probably a good idea to reframe this award, though I did like the cheekiness of MUBA.


    • I liked the concept of it, i.e. a terrific book that had somehow passed under the radar. But looking at it on a CV, or a publicity bio… well, I can see why an author would rather the award had a different name.


      • Yes, that’s exactly what I thought. A hard one to shout from the rooftops.

        Liked by 1 person

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