Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 30, 2022

Awards news: the ACT Book of the Year and the Barbara Jefferson Award

It is my pleasure to pass on not one, but two awards announcements made last night,

From a shortlist of ACT authors, the judges chose Subhash Jaireth’s Spinoza’s Overcoat, Travels with Writers and Poets, (Transit Lounge, 2020) as the ACT Book of the Year.  As you can probably guess from my review, this exquisite book occupies a special place on my shelves and I am delighted that it won.

The ACT award brings attention to their small but impressive writing community.  This was the shortlist for the award.

  • Oil Under Troubled Water, Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue by Bernard Collaery.
  • Utterly by Dr PS Cottier
  • Spinoza’s Overcoat, Travels with Writers and Poets, by Subhash Jaireth
  • Nigh by Dr Penelope Layland
  • The Trials of Portnoy by Dr Patrick Mullins
  • Doggerland by Moya Pacey

There are brief summaries of the books at the Canberra Times. You can also listen to an interview with Subhash at Radio National here.

BTW Subhash is a poet too, and you can find reviews of some of his poetry here.

Readers of the Canberra Times can find out more in this article.

One of my favourite awards is the Barbaris Jefferis Award.  Predating the Stella Award by five years the award is offered biennially with a feminist agenda and is open to  writers of any gender for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.

From the shortlist below, the judges selected S L Lim’s second novel,  Revenge: Murder in Three Parts. completing a quinella for Transit Lounge who consistently publish some of the most interesting books in Australia!

  • Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down (Text Publishing)
  • Ordinary Matter by Laura Elvery (University of Queensland Press)
  • Benevolence by Julie Janson (Magabala Books). see my review
  • Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim (Transit Lounge), see my review
  • Smart Ovens for Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan (Brio Books)
  • The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (Penguin Random House Australia)

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers, and especially Barry Scott at Transit Lounge!


  1. Thanks Lisa: I’ll take a look at these.


    • I’ll be taking another look at Spinoza’s Overcoat myself. It’s a book to revisit again and again.


  2. And I was out at the ballet last night instead! The ACT does have an impressive writing community for a small jurisdiction.

    Like you I always watch out for the Barbara Jefferis award, though like the Stella it was also controversial at the time as you probably remember. The other awards I’m really missing are the Kibble and Dobby awards. Last time I looked I read that they were being reassessed, presumably to do with money, but that’s been a few years now.

    Anyhow, thanks for this post.


    • Actually *blush* when I looked for the BJA shortlist to add to this post, I discovered that I must have missed the announcement for some reason.
      I remember when I first started blogging there was a wonderful site dedicated to book awards, but in the end he couldn’t keep up and stopping doing it. So I guess I shouldn’t feel bad… but I don’t like discovering these gaps in my coverage!


      • You can’t do them all … I think I did see it as it wasn’t all that long ago I think? And yes, I remember that site. I think I linked to it once when I was talking awards. It was great.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That was the wonderful work of Perry Middlemiss, one of the first sources of all things Oz literature I discovered when I first started blogging back in the early 2000s. He used to comment on my site quite regularly and he was generous in sharing info etc. He’s very active in fan fiction / science fiction circles, I believe


          • Yes and he was an active Wikipedian when I first “met” him before I started blogging. I did know SF was his thing but didn’t remember he was behind the awards site.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I still see Perry sometimes on Twitter. He did have a wonderful site which morphed from a static site into a (WordPress?) blog, and he did cover awards, but the one I’m thinking of was by someone else. I wish I could remember his name, to acknowledge him properly.


  3. I seem to have missed your original review (going by the date it is when Tim arrived here for a 3-week holiday that morphed into a 15-month stay because of the pandemic 😷) but it sounds like a rich and rewarding read, probably not to my tastes because I’m unfamiliar with most (not all) of the writers name checked. Interesting to see Revenge take out this prize, I read it when it came out but have next to no memory of it.


    • *chuckle* What I find interesting about the Revenge win is that the terms of the award seem to imply that violent revenge gets the tick of approval as a means of empowerment. And if you look at the comments under my review, you’ll see that some of my readers are a murderous lot too!


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