Last year I reported on the inaugural MUBA – Most Under-rated Book Award. I hoped that it would continue, because it brings to our attention good books that somehow slide under the radar, mostly because their authors are less known and/or their publishers are small.
In 2012, I had read one of the four short-listed books, Irma Gold’s Two steps forward (my review), but it didn’t, unfortunately, win. This year again, I had read one of the four short-listed books, Merlinda Bobis‘ Fish-hair woman (my review). But, before I announce the winner, here is the shortlist:
- Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-hair woman (Spinifex Press)
- Ginger Briggs’ Staunch (Affirm Press, which published Irma Gold’s book)
- Annabel Smith’s Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot (Fremantle Press)
- Anna Solding’s The hum of concrete (MidnightSun Publishing)
The judges for this year, according to its sponsor SPUNC, included book reviewer/writer Stephanie Campisi, bookseller/poet Ben Walter, and writer/bibliotherapist, Estelle Tang. SPUNC says of the shortlist that:
The shortlisted writers represent four of the original and worthy voices to be published by independent Australian publishers in the 2012 calendar year. These books show excellence in their genre and demonstrate quality of writing, editorial integrity, and production. They have been overlooked for other prizes and have not generated the sales they deserve for any number of reasons other than the great quality of the products.
And the winner is – ta da – Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-hair woman. As I said, I haven’t read the others though I do have Annabel Smith in my reading sights. However, I was highly impressed by Fish-hair woman, which is a challenging but rewarding read, and so am thrilled for her. It’s a timely win too as Merlinda Bobis is a Filippine-Australian. As Spinifex Press director Dr Renate Klein said in their Press Release on the award:
At this time when the Philippines is experiencing a humanitarian disaster on an epic scale, I’m pleased that a kernel of something positive has happened this week. Merlinda is a Philippine Australian writer who has shown how much she cares for the Philippines and its people, and I know this award means so much to her.
It is fantastic, but not surprising, that Fish-Hair woman captured the judges’ attention; it deserves a much wider audience, and this award will definitely assist in attracting more readers to the book.
So, huge congratulations to Bobis and Spinifex – and let’s hope it results in more sales.
Have you read any books in the last year or so that you believe are under-rated? Do let us know in the comments and give them a plug!