A book judges described as a suspenseful and energetic evocation of the frustrations and discoveries of the teenage years has won the 2020 ACT Book of the Year award.
Lisa Fuller's Ghost Bird, a young adult novel from the first-time author, won the $10,000 prize, which had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The judges said the book, published by Queensland University Press, was a complex and ambitious novel, which used young adult supernatural fiction to drive a harrowing analysis into colonial trauma.
"It is graphic and visual while containing nuance that explores the depths of the challenges faced by Australian society," the judges said.
Fuller, a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, Queensland, is a member the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, the First Nations Australia Writers Network and the Canberra Society of Editors.
Ghost Bird won the 2017 David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Writer, the Griffith University Young Adult Book Award, the Norma K Hemming Award and the Readings Young Adult Book Prize.
Arts Minister Tara Cheyne, who announced the winner of the prize, congratulated Fuller.
"We have an invigorating culture of writing practice in the ACT, and Lisa's work is an excellent example of this. Ghost Bird is a young adult novel with many layers that appeals to people of all ages," Ms Cheyne said.
Nigel Featherstone's Bodies of Men and Tim Bonyhady's The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat were highly commended.
Featherstone told The Canberra Times earlier this month the ACT Book of the Year had extended the life of books which had been published before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"To have your own creative region say, 'You know, we think this book has merit' does mean a lot, I think," Featherstone said.
Featherstone said the prize was a unique opportunity for writers to hear from their peers in the quiet period after a book has been published.
"I think one of the things is that we write these books and they're published, and then there's this silence where nothing happens. You spent six years getting 80,000 words in the right order, and then nothing happens," he said.
In Whom We Trust by John Clanchy and Acting Like a Girl by Sandra Renew had been shortlisted.
The prize was judged by Robyn Cadwallader, Jessica Friedmann and Andrew Galan.
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