He said they wanted to do something different with Bluey on the page. “Rather than retelling the story as it appears on screen, we wanted to try to get inside the characters’ heads a bit more. It’s raised the books up a bit and given them a fresh feel.”
Other winners of the industry awards include Stella Prize-winning novelists Charlotte Wood (The Weekend) and Heather Rose (Bruny), comedian Kitty Flanagan (488 Rules for Life), musician Clare Bowditch (Your Own Kind of Girl), former AFL star Neale Daniher, with Warwick Green (When All Is Said & Done), serial winners Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (The 117-Storey Treehouse), Margaret Atwood (The Testaments), Behrouz Boochani (No Friend But the Mountains), Helen Garner and Paul Jennings, booksellers Readings in Melbourne and Books Kinokuniya in Sydney, and publishers Allen & Unwin and Magabala Books. The awards are judged by an academy of 250 people from the book industry and were presented in a virtual ceremony.
Flanagan said winning the general non-fiction award meant her book, a sort of instruction book about how people would behave if she had her way, “was a proper book … It’s a sort of joke book, but behind it there is a belief in common sense and common courtesy, which we could all do with.”
Now she is toying with a pandemic appendix to 488 Rules for Life: “Like stop and think before you get into a brawl over toilet paper. No one’s walking around with a dirty bum. Toilet paper was invented in recent years and people have been going to the toilet for years. And maybe dads could be a bit quieter about working from home. Think about what your wife or mother has been doing for years.”
Bowditch won the new writer award for her memoir, Your Own Kind of Girl, the writing of which she likened to a long-term monogamous commitment – she gave up her radio job and other projects to finish the book.
But she’d had a 20-year run-up to writing it.
“I made a promise to myself at 21 to write about recovering from an acute episode of mental ill health,” Bowditch said. “And to actually speak about some of the hope that happens when we have a brain that doesn’t necessarily do what we want it to do and a life that doesn’t do what we want it to.”
The memoir is “just another human being telling another story about negotiating life on life’s terms. I was more than happy to share it because I remember with crystal clarity how much joy and hope, connections and lack of aloneness I have got from books.” She confirmed she is working on another album and another book.
Meanwhile, in a recent episode of Bluey, the eponymous pup is told by her mother to clean up the playroom. “But we don’t like tidying up,” she replies. She might not be a canine Marie Kondo but she cleaned up at the Australian Book Industry Awards.
Australian Book Industry Award Winners 2020
ABIA book of the year: Bluey: The Beach, Ludo Studio, BBC Studios and Penguin Random House Australia
Audiobook of the year: No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani
Biography book of the year: When All Is Said & Done by Neale Daniher with Warwick Green
Book retailer of the year: Readings
Bookshop of the year: Books Kinokuniya (Sydney)
Book of the year for older children (ages 13+): Welcome to Your Period by Yumi Stynes and Dr Melissa Kang
Book of the year for younger children (ages 7-12): The 117-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Children’s picture book of the year (ages 0-6): Bluey: The Beach, Ludo Studio, BBC Studios and Penguin Random House Australia
General fiction book of the year: Bruny by Heather Rose
General non-fiction book of the year: Kitty Flanagan’s 488 Rules for Life by Kitty Flanagan
Illustrated book of the year: The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland
International book of the year: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Literary fiction book of the year: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Lloyd O’Neil Hall of Fame award: Helen Garner
Pixie O’Harris award: Erica Wagner
Publisher of the year: Allen & Unwin
Rising Star award: Hazel Lam
Small publisher of the year: Magabala Books
Small publishers’ adult book of the year: Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta
Small publishers’ children’s book of the year: Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders (illustrated by Carol Rossetti)
The Matt Richell Award for new writer of the year: Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald are a sponsor of the awards.
Jason Steger is Books Editor at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald