CENTENARIAN debut novelist Eddie Jaku has become the oldest author to be shortlisted for the Australian independent booksellers Indie Book Awards.
Jaku's autobiography, The Happiest Man on Earth, is one of 24 shortlisted books vying for the top spot as the Overall Indie 'Book of the Year' for 2021, as voted by the country's independent booksellers.
In his memoir, Holocaust survivor Jaku - who endured hell at Auschwitz and saw his family killed by the Nazis, the 100-year-old details his amazing life and blueprint for happiness.
The book is one of four titles nominated in the non-fiction category, alongside Phosphorescence by Julia Baird, People of the River by Grace Karskens and Cassandra Pybus's Truganini.
Speaking of his normination, Jaku thanked booksellers for supporting his book and spreading his message of hope and happiness.
"In a year when I was not able to visit bookshops myself, it has meant so much to know that so many people are reading my words and sharing joy. At 100 years of age, I am so proud and excited to be a debut Australian writer," he said.
Adelaide author Pip Williams's book The Dictionary of Lost Words - one of four finalists in the Debut Fiction category - was published days into Australia's first pandemic lockdown.
"The timing was awful for a debut novel and I lowered all expectations that my book would find its tribe of readers. But then something wonderful happened - independent booksellers refused to shut up shop," she said.
"While their doors might have been closed, they found myriad ways to get books into the hands of people who would enjoy them, perhaps even need them, during the long weeks of isolation. As a reader and a writer, I was enormously grateful."
Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards. Previous winners include: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton; Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend; The Dry by Jane Harper; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; The Bush by Don Watson; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; All That I Am by Anna Funder; The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and Breath by Tim Winton.
Indie Book Awards 2021 finalists
- All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Australia)
- The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan (Knopf Australia)
- Mammoth by Chris Flynn (University of Queensland Press)
- Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)
- Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (Fourth Estate Australia)
- The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku (Macmillan Australia)
- People of the River by Grace Karskens (Allen & Unwin)
- Truganini by Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin)
- The Bluffs by Kyle Perry (Michael Joseph Australia)
- Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson (Hachette Australia)
- A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu (Allen & Unwin)
- The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
- Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong by Samantha Bloom, Cameron Bloom & Bradley Trevor Greive (ABC Books, HarperCollins Australia)
- Plantopedia by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan (Smith Street Books)
- Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull (Hardie Grant Books)
- In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky (Murdoch Books)
- The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly (Lothian Children's Books)
- Sing Me The Summer by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Alison Lester (Affirm Press)
- The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press)
- Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Lothian Children's Books)
- Future Girl by Asphyxia (Allen & Unwin Children's)
- Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin Children's)
- The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin Children's)
- This One is Ours by Kate O'Donnell (University of Queensland Press)
The category winners and Book of the Year winner will be announced at a virtual awards event on March 22.