Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance

Heat and Light cover

Heat and Light

Ellen van Neerven

University of Queensland Press

Ellen van Neerven is a Murri writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage, a Yugambeh woman with traditional ties to the country between the Logan and Tweed Rivers. Her short story collection Heat and Light (2014, UQP) won the 2013 David Unaipon Award and the 2015 Dobbie Literary Award. It was shortlisted for the 2015 Stella Prize, shortlisted in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards for the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing, shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, and Longlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Ellen was also named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists of 2015.

In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.
Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.
Heat and Light presents an intriguing collection while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.

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Joe's Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

Joe's Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

Zoe Boccabella

Harper Collins Publishers

Zoë Boccabella was born in Brisbane in 1973. For many years, she worked as a writer, in media liaison and as a researcher for universities, government and the police service, as well as freelance. She also worked in several restaurants and a delicatessen. Zoë has a Bachelor of Arts in literature and sociology, a Master of Philosophy, and has studied scriptwriting. Since childhood, she has loved to write, attempting her first novel, ‘Tragedy Island’, at age seven. These days Zoë is drawn to collecting spoken histories and the stories of migrants, and writes both memoir and fiction. She loves cooking handed-down family recipes as well as creating new ones, and also enjoys gardening and painting.

'Nonno Anni gives me a nudge. "You know, when I first came to Australia, I knew that my life would change forever."'
Leaving the small village of Fossa in Italy in 1939 to meet a father he barely remembered in a place that was far from everything he knew, fifteen-year-old Annibale Boccabella arrived in Australia determined to make a go of it. It was a time when everything was changing and anything seemed possible.
More than 70 years later, in 2011, Zoe Boccabella and her family hurriedly try to save the treasured belongings of Annibale and his wife Francesca – Zoe’s grandparents – from the rising waters of the Brisbane River. When Zoe sees the sign from their old fruit shop and milk bar about to disappear beneath the floodwater, this triggers in her a realisation that while she has long looked to Italy to discover her migrant heritage, much of it happened here in Australia.

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Queensland cover

Queensland: Everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask

Mark Bahnisch

NewSouth Publishing

Mark Bahnisch is the founder of the award-winning blog Lavartus Prodeo. His commentaries and analyses have been published in Guardian Australia, The Monthly, Crikey, New Matilda, The Drum, the Australian Financial Review, Australian Literary Review and elsewhere.

Everyone has heard the clichés about Queensland politics: Queensland is ‘different’. It’s the ‘Deep North’. Its state elections exemplify Pineapple Party Time. But what if those clichés are in fact looking more like the state of affairs in the rest of Australia? Does the Sunshine State represent the new normal in Australian politics?
Once, Queensland was seen as the land that time forgot, with a narrow economy based on agriculture, mining and transport – and conservative values. Then, from the 1980s, a transformation took place as the state modernised, entrenching democratic reforms and civil liberties. Yet now, in the era of Campbell Newman, the Palmer United Party and national politics that oozes alarmist populism, it feels like Queensland’s history of eccentricity and unrest has colonised the whole country.
So how does Queensland both point the way forward and shine a light on the way we live now? Political commentator and Queenslander Mark Bahnisch looks closely and boldly at the Queensland experience, from the Joh Era to the present. His must-read book reaches some surprising conclusions.

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Through the Wallcover

Through the Wall: Reflections on Leadership, Love and Survival

Anna Bligh

Harper Collins Publishers

In March 2009 Anna made history, becoming the first woman to lead a party to victory in a State election in Australia.  Born in Queensland in 1960, Anna grew up mainly on the Gold Coast. She graduated from the University of Queensland in 1980 and worked in the community sector and the public service before entering Parliament as the Labor member for South Brisbane in 1995. She joined the shadow ministry the following year and became a minister in 2001. She held several senior portfolios, before becoming Deputy Premier in 2005, and Premier in 2007.  After losing the election in 2012, she stepped down and is now the CEO of the NSW YWCA.
Anna Bligh knows something about hard knocks and high walls. She was raised by a single mother in the working class Gold Coast, a young girl with a soon-to-be-estranged dad who struggled with alcoholism. She spent over 17 years in the rough and tumble of the Queensland Parliament (seven of them as either Deputy Premier or Premier) and she was the first woman to be elected Premier of an Australian State in her own right. In 2011, she led Queensland through the devastation of Australia’s largest natural disasters. Her Party then lost the 2012 State election and Anna stepped down to start a new life, only to find herself diagnosed with cancer.
Writing with her trademark honesty, warmth and humour about the challenges that public and private life have thrown her, Anna reflects candidly — as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and political leader — on the lessons of leadership, resilience, community and family.

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Warrior cover


Libby Connors

Allen & Unwin

Libby Connors is a senior lecturer in history at the University of Southern Queensland. She is author of Australia's Frontline and co-author of A History of the Australian Environment Movement.

In the 1840s, white settlement in the north was under attack. European settlers were in awe of Aboriginal physical fitness and fighting prowess, and a series of deadly raids on homesteads made even the townspeople of Brisbane anxious.
Young warrior Dundalli was renowned for his size and strength, and his elders gave him the task of leading the resistance against the Europeans' ever increasing incursions on their traditional lands. Their response was embedded in Aboriginal law and Dundalli became one of their greatest lawmen. With his band of warriors, he had the settlers in thrall for twelve years, evading capture again and again, until he was finally arrested and publicly executed.

Warrior is the extraordinary story of one of Australia's little-known heroes, one of many Aboriginal men to die protecting their country. It is also a fresh and compelling portrait of life in the early days of white settlement of Brisbane and south east Queensland.

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