SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A novel set in a future where an unchecked global population has created an apocalypse took the top fiction prize in Australia's IP Picks unpublished book awards on Wednesday.
The awards, now in their 11th year, are aimed at giving unpublished writers from Australia and New Zealand a chance to break into the increasingly cut-throat literary world, with publication the top prize for books in five categories.
"As usual, the judges were hard pressed to find a clear winner," said David Reiter, director, Interactive Publications (IP), the Queensland-based publisher that hands out the awards.
"They felt that at least five or six of the shortlisted entries were publishable or very close to being publishable."
Guy Salvidge's "Yellowcake Springs," in which all but the elite are suffering through a slow, painful apocalypse, is set against what the judges called "a frighteningly plausible Australian future."
Reiter termed the caliber of the poetry entries particularly high, but judges selected "Water over Stone" by Laura Jan Shore, calling it "powerful, intimate, highly polished."
The sole winner from New Zealand was Keith Westwater for "Tongues of Ash," who took "Best First Book" with a collection of travel poetry set in New Zealand.
Lois Shepheard won the non-fiction award with "The Ragboiler's Daughter" and Janet Reid won the junior fiction prize for "The Ruby Bottle."