Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 5, 2022

2022 Small Press Network’s Book of the Year Award shortlist

The Small Press Book of the Year Award (BOTY) used to be known as the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award, which is good to know because it explains why you may never have heard about the nominated books.  For this reason I have included the descriptions that came with the press release below…

The 2022 shortlisted titles are: 

No Document by Anwen Crawford (Giramondo), the only one I’ve read, see my review

Friends and Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford (Text)

Hometown Haunts edited by Poppy Nwosu (Wakefield Press)

Permafrost by SJ Norman (UQP)

Gravidity and Parity by Eleanor Jackson (Vagabond)

Theory of Colours by Bella Li (Vagabond)

Sexy Tales of Paleontology by Patrick Lenton (Subbed In)

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 and 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) 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) 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 announced on 25 November 2022.

I’m going to indulge myself now with my own personal list of 2021 books that didn’t get the attention they deserve.

My criteria:

  • was it published by an Australian Small Press?
  • do I remember what it was about, now that it’s 2022?
  • is the book IMHO a very good/interesting/thought-provoking/surprising book to read?
  • has the book been widely reviewed, if at all? or
  • has it been nominated for any awards?

These are all novels, and I recommend them all.  (I chose The Price of Two Sparrows as my 2021 Book of the Year but that doesn’t count as an award because there’s no money involved and the fame is limited to readers of this blog).

The Pebbled Beach at Pentecost, by Andrew Lemon Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2021

Night Blue, by Angela O’Keeffe, Transit Lounge, 2021

The Price of Two Sparrows, by Christy Collins, Affirm Press, 2021

The Beach Caves, by Trevor Shearston Scribe Publications, 2021




  1. Night Blue is one of the most inventive, intriguing and beautiful novels I’ve read all year.


    • I agree, Amanda. Capturing the voice of a painting, when you think what that entails for it to be credible, is sheer genius IMO.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes! Not once does it falter. A superlative act of imagination and skill.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Transit Lounge is one of my favourite publishers.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lisa, I haven’t read it yet, but you might be interested in one of their new titles, ‘T’ by WA author Alan Fyfe. It was shortlisted for the Hungerford and other awards and has been getting great reviews. I’ve read some of Alan’s short fiction and it’s powerful stuff. Heres the TL link:


            • Thanks for the suggestion, Amanda, I’ve seen that it’s getting lots of excellent reviews. I hope it does well for him.
              But, well, I don’t need to labour the point, but I’m not keen on grunge.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great list of books; it’s so nice to see small press offerings being highlighted! ALL of these look quite tempting, but I’m particularly drawn to “Night Blue” (I love books about art/artists) and “The Beach Caves.” Hopefully one or the other, if not both, will be available here in the U.S. (if so, it’s probably through Amazon …)


    • Hello, thanks for dropping by!
      I like books about art and artists too. I think you’d like the book I’m reading now, it’s called The National Picture and it’s about the quest to find a real missing painting of national significance here in Australia, I’m loving it.


  3. You only read one book off this list? That is truly shocking!


    • I know, *hangs head in shame*, and if you could see all the other books I haven’t read on my shelves you would be even more shocked…




        • But I do read them! I have about a thousand books on my TBR, in my library purpose-built to house them. I read about 200 books each year, so that’s about 5 years supply, if I don’t add to them.
          Which I do, to support Australian authors and booksellers.


          • “to support Australian authors and booksellers.”

            You are already doing that quite well by publishing reviews and blogging about the authors. You do not necessarily have to buy the book. The Australian publishing community will not grind to a halt with absence of one consumer. Perhaps bibliophile would have been a better term.


            • *chuckle*
              Well, that’s put me in my place…


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