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The Next Big Thing: Most Underrated Book Award Edition 2019

Listen to The Next Big Thing: Most Underrated Book Award Edition 2019

Composite photo, left to right: Melissa Cranenburgh, Lenka Vanderboom, James Cristina and Ilka Tampke

Composite, left to right: Melissa Cranenburgh, Lenka Vanderboom, James Cristina and Ilka Tampke

What's small, nerdy, fiercely independent and sometimes noisy? The Small Press Network's Most Underrated Book Award. It's an anticipated annual tradition – always our last Next Big Thing event of the year – and it's the only peer-reviewed and proven preventative medicine for your chronic case of reader's FOMO.

Now in its seventh year, the Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Award celebrates independently published titles that deserve some extra attention. Previously, the award has gone to The Cook by Wayne Macauley, A Wrong Turn in the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson. Last year's winner was Living in Hope by the late Frank Byrne.

The 2019 shortlisted titles are Brontide by Sue McPherson (Magabala Books), Antidote to a Curse by James Cristina (Transit Lounge) and Songwoman by Ilka Tampke (Text Publishing), and the 2019 judging panel is Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang. 

In this episode, we hear readings from the shortlisted works, and toast a great year in independent publishing, before revealing the 2019 MUBA winner. We're joined by each of the shortlisted authors (except Sue McPherson, who is represented by Magabala Books director Lenka Vanderboom). Melissa Cranenburgh hosts.

Presented in partnership with Small Press Network.


Portrait of Melissa Cranenburgh

Melissa Cranenburgh

Melissa Cranenburgh is a writer, broadcaster, editor and educator. She spent more than a decade in senior editing roles, including associate editor and acting editor of the Big Issue, and co-editor of the magazine's annual fiction edition. She now teaches in RMIT's Professional Writing and Editing courses, and hosts Triple R's flagship weekly book show, Backstory.

Portrait of Ilka Tampke

Ilka Tampke

Ilka Tampke teaches fiction at RMIT University. Her first novel, Skin, was published in eight countries and was nominated for the Voss Literary Prize and the Aurealis Awards in 2016. Her second novel, Songwoman, was published in October 2018. Ilka lives on five acres in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria.

Portrait of James Cristina

James Cristina

James Cristina was born in Malta. His parents migrated to Australia in the late sixties and he grew up in Melbourne. He has taught English in Australia, Malta, England, the U.S., Jordan, Bahrain, Switzerland, Belgium, South Korea and Oman. He holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

Portrait of Lenka Vanderboom

Lenka Vanderboom

Lenka Vanderboom grew up in the Kimberley on her Yawuru homelands. She is engaged as a Teaching Artist and Coordinator of Melbourne Theatre Company’s First Peoples Young Artist’s Program and is an ensemble member of Melbourne Playback Theatre Company. Lenka is a Director of Magabala Books Indigenous publishing house.

Based in Melbourne, Lenka has worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria since 2016 in the Engagement and Impact Division specialising in First Nations’ content and facilitating awe filled experiences for unruly groups of diverse humans.

Portrait of Sue McPherson

Sue McPherson

Sue McPherson is a visual artist living in Eumundi, Queensland. She was born in Sydney to an Aboriginal mother, from Wiradjuri country. Sue was adopted into the McPherson family, landowners from the Batlow area in New South Wales, when she was very young. A weekend writing workshop inspired Sue to join a writers' group and commit to writing a young adults novel, Grace Beside Me, which won the kuril dhagun Indigenous Writing Competition through the State Library of Queensland.

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