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Boy Swallows ABIAs: Trent Dalton dominates the book industry’s night of nights

Boy Swallows ABIAs: Trent Dalton dominates the book industry’s night of nights

Touted as the Oscars for the bookish, the Australian Book Industry Awards played out on a glittering Darling Harbour on Thursday night as industry legends and superstar authors gathered to find out which books the industry had decided were top-shelf.

The night kicked off with American author Andrew Sean Greer, who’s in town for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, picking up the International Book of the Year for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Less, which follows an unlucky-in-love novelist travel the world in an existential spin.

In the children’s book department, perennial favourites Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton scored another gong for their ‘Treehouse’ series, with Book of the Year for Younger Children going to The 104-Storey Treehouse. Jeremy Lachlan’s debut blockbuster Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds picked up Book of the Year for Older Children and All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell and Alison Collpoys, a book that celebrates the uniqueness of every child, scored Picture Book of the Year.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, the anthology of stories edited by Dr Anita Heiss, was crowned the best adult book from a small publisher. Lynette Noni won best children’s book from a small publisher for her dystopian novel Whisper. In July 2018, all five of the top-selling Australian YA novels were written by Lynette.

Bri Lee took out Biography of the Year to a huge round of applause for Eggshell Skull and Behrouz Boochani’s extraordinary book that was written on a phone from Manus Island, No Friend But the Mountains, was awarded General Non-Fiction Book of the Year. Leigh Sales’s Any Ordinary Day was given an honourable mention.

An emotional Holly Ringland, who looked just as flowery as her beautiful cover, scored General Fiction Book of the Year with The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

And then came Trent Dalton. The ABIAs 2019 could be renamed ‘Trent Dalton ecstatically accepts trophies all night’.

His roll began when Boy Swallows Universe picked up Audiobook of the Year early in the night, continued as Dalton was awarded the Matt Richell Award for Best New Writer, and peaked as the journalist scored both Literary Fiction Book of the Year and the overall ABIA Book of the Year 2019.

Dalton told the crowd, on their feet in a standing ovation, that he was the ‘happiest man alive’ after receiving his fourth and final award from Richard Flanagan.

It was the first time any author has won four ABIA awards on the same night.