The Australian Book Industry Awards on June 9 saw Blak excellence being recognised in multiple categories for talents in writing and storytelling.
Judged by more than 250 publishers, booksellers, agents, media and industry representatives, this year’s shortlist showcased both high-profile authors and a barrage of new, emerging writers.
Indigenous writers and publishers were praised in this year’s awards with multiple creatives nominated in different categories.
Kamilaroi man and founder of Deadly Science Corey Tutt won book of the year for younger children for First Scientists: Deadly Inventions and Innovations from Australia’s First Peoples.
The children’s picture book of the year was awarded to Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country by Adnyamathanha man and ex-AFL player Adam Goodes, Barkindji author and illustrator David Hardy and writer Ellie Laing.
Having already won the acclaimed Stella Prize this year, Bundjalung woman and poet Evelyn Araluen took out the award for small publishers adult book of the year with her debut collection of poetry.
Ms Araluen said she was thrilled not only to win the award, but to be nominated alongside so many other talented First Nations authors.
“It was really great to see the range of some of those groups that were not just awarded but also shortlisted,” she said.
“Because I think it’s a really good sign about the commitment and investment in First Nations storytelling and especially seeing that across a range of different kinds of books.
“I think that’s really promising because that’s putting a focus on the responsibility of publishers to be going out there and actually working with mob on these stories.”
The number of First Nations writers nominated has been a sign of the increasing number First Nations storytellers in recent times.
For Araluen, these are opportunities she knows has not always been afforded to First Nations people.
“There’s a lot of momentum that’s behind First Nations storytelling, but I always try to measure that by just remembering that there were others who came before, whose poetry or creative writing never got the same amount of opportunity,” she said.
“It’s really disappointing to realise the more and more that I research, those books were out there but they were being deliberately excluded and they were being basically withheld from our curriculum.
“This has really been a place in the institution that was worked for and that was really developed through a lot of hard work and a lot of organising to get to where we are now.”
The full list of winners can be found on the ABIA website.