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The Most Underrated Book Award 2012

October 19, 2012

A short post! I have just read on the SPUNC site that Kobo is sponsoring an award to highlight books that were released by independent publishers and members of the Small Press Network (SPUNC) and that did not receive wide recognition.

The shortlist for the inaugural award was announced this week, and the titles are:

The award apparently recognises both the publisher and author. The winner will be announced, the SPUNC announcement says, on 8 November at the opening of the Independent Publishing Conference during a special gala night and literary debate at the Wheeler Centre.

Good on Kobo I say. Books published by smaller presses are often overlooked in the major literary awards partly, I presume, because the authors usually aren’t well enough established to be noticed and partly because small publishers don’t have the marketing clout and distribution networks to get their books out to enough readers and reviewers. I hope this new award will help raise the profile of the authors and their hardworking publishers.

* I have a soft spot for Irma Gold, and not just because I’ve read and enjoyed her book. She lives in my city, and is currently coordinating the production of, and editing, The invisible thread, an anthology of works “by writers who have an association with the Canberra region”. The book represents a major literary contribution to Canberra’s 2013 Centenary Celebrations, and is planned to be the focus of many literary events over the coming year. Watch this space!

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 7:04 pm

    Hi Sue, I’ve read The Cook too – though I wouldn’t call it under-rated, it was shortlisted for the Vic Premier’s Prize. It’s very good – I was very impressed.

    • October 19, 2012 7:09 pm

      Oh sorry, I missed that, Lisa … will add your review. Clearly the short-listers felt it qualified … I’m not sure what their criteria were.

      • October 19, 2012 7:56 pm

        It could be that they feel that it should have been a bestseller – because it’s a bit like Under the Skin by Michael Faber in its shocking impact (which has to be skirted in reviews for fear of spoiling the whole book)?

        • October 19, 2012 8:57 pm

          Yes, I wondered if they might have had some sort of sales figure in mind … not quite bestseller perhaps but some level of market penetration not reached?

        • October 19, 2012 10:33 pm

          It’s hard to know, and the trouble with something like this is that there’s potential for favouritism or manipulation. I mean, there must be dozens of great books that haven’t had enough attention paid to them each year, but if they’re books that haven’t had publicity, how is it that the judges of this award have discovered them? Are they just the ones they’ve come across? Or have the titles been suggested, or submitted, and if so, by whom? I’m not suggesting anything nefarious, only that I’m confused about how this award works.

  2. October 20, 2012 1:01 am

    This sounds wonderful to me. I learned a few days ago that, in the US/Canada, most publishers no longer pay for book tours (at least, this was in the context of cookbooks), so if you aren’t able yourself to fund publicity, it can get hard to get your work out there. Good for Kobo!

    • October 20, 2012 9:37 am

      Thanks Hannah … That’s interesting. It might just be for certain types of books … Would be interesting to know whether change is afoot generally…

  3. October 20, 2012 3:20 am

    What a great idea! I haven’t read any of them but I think I Hate Martin Amis et al should win just for the title alone :)

  4. October 20, 2012 9:49 am

    Valid questions Lisa. I’d like to know more and may research it but on the other hand I’m not too bothered by questions re favouritism. Most awards … Except perhaps for the unpublished and first writer ones … tend to focus on the usual suspects. I like the usual suspects but you do wonder whether they are they only “good” writers out there. I know some of them have extensive, rigorous longlisting and shortlisting processes but still how widely do they canvas? The occasional debut or lesser known writer sneaks through, but not often. Since literary awards have a high level of subjectivity and since it’s hard for lesser known writers to get a foothold I’m glad to see another opportunity … Particularly given we’ve read some and see merit in them? The judges are identified in the SPUNC announcement. It will be interesting to see if the award becomes established …

    • October 20, 2012 10:03 am

      Oh yes indeed, any process of judging books is problematic. And I agree, the more prizes the better!

  5. October 26, 2012 10:33 am

    Thanks for drawing attention to this shortlist. I hope it helps all the authors find a wider readership! It’s good to see Irma Gold’s ‘Two Steps Forward’ on the list. Also Jess Huon, who also writes extremely well, I think.

    • October 26, 2012 6:29 pm

      Thanks Dorothy and welcome … lovely to hear from one of the Canberra 7 (if I remember correctly). I will have to seek out Jess Huon.

  6. October 27, 2012 5:39 pm

    Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I was a founding member of ‘7 Writers’, and we’re coming together again as part of the ‘women who made Canberra’ exhibition at CMAG, opening in November. The hard part will be looking at all the old photos and remembering how young we were!

    • October 27, 2012 8:06 pm

      Oh, I will have to make sure I go to that exhibition then! We Canberra readers were (are) very proud of our seven women writers.

      • October 27, 2012 10:08 pm

        I look forward to reading about it, Sue – and Dorothy – you were suggesting the other day that you might start a blog – it would be lovely to read an article about the 7 if you did start one.

        • October 27, 2012 10:33 pm

          If I get there — and I plan to if it’s on for a decent length of time — I’ll try to write it up, Lisa. I’m guessing the exhibition is part of the lead-in to our 2013 centenary celebrations.

  7. October 29, 2012 5:42 pm

    The ‘women who made Canberra’ exhibition is on until March 2013, so plenty of time to see it! Thanks, Lisa, for your suggestion to write a post about 7 Writers. I will certainly do so if i can. My problem is technical incompetence, whereas you two manage marvellously!

    • October 29, 2012 6:14 pm

      Oh good … I reckon I can fit that in! As for writing a post about the 7 writers, I’d love you to write a guest post for Whispering Gums on the topic, if that would appeal to you. It looks like your site is more a website than a blog and they can be a bit trickier to manage (or at least that’s my personal experience!)

  8. November 4, 2012 7:06 am

    I got sent the cook by the uk publisher I will be reading it mainly due to nick cave liking it and I am a Cave fan ,all the best stu

    • November 4, 2012 8:13 am

      Oh good Stu … Did you read his novel? I have a feeling you did read and review it?

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