Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance shortlist

Little Fish Are Sweet

Little Fish Are Sweet

Matthew Condon

UQP

About the book

Little Fish Are Sweet is Matthew Condon’s extraordinary personal account of writing the Three Crooked Kings trilogy. When Condon first interviewed disgraced former police commissioner Terry Lewis, he had no idea that it would be the start of a turbulent six-year journey. As hundreds of people came forward to share their powerful and sometimes shocking stories, decades of crime and corruption were revealed in a new light. Risking threats and intimidation, Condon tirelessly pursued his investigations into a web of cold murder cases and past conspiracies.

About the author

Matthew Condon is a prize-winning Australian novelist and journalist. He is currently on staff with the Courier-Mail’s Qweekend magazine. He has written ten books of fiction and is the author of the best-selling true-crime trilogy about Queensland crime and corruption – Three Crooked Kings, Jacks and Jokers and All Fall Down.

Judges' Comments

In Little Fish Are Sweet, Matthew Condon takes reader on the odyssey that was the writing of his influential Three Crooked Kings trilogy. With the successive publication of each instalment of his trilogy, ever more information came to light about the relationships that allowed corruption to infect the political, policing and cultural milieus of Queensland from the 1950s. In this work, Condon skilfully lays out those new threads. But here, he also reveals the persona of the Terrence Lewis he spent hundreds of hours interviewing. In his own distinctive voice, Condon makes clear in Little Fish Are Sweet that understanding the ways in which dishonest people and systems are protected is important work. He has sought to ensure that Queensland’s corrupt past is not forgotten, so that it will not be repeated. Little Fish Are Sweet reinforces for readers not only how important Condon’s trilogy is, but also the scale of the project. Condon has done us a service.


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All Fall Down

For a Girl

Mary-Rose MacColl

Allen & Unwin

About the book

Emerging from an unconventional, boisterously happy childhood, Mary-Rose MacColl was a rebellious teenager. And when, at the age of fifteen, her high-school teacher and her husband started inviting Mary-Rose to spend time with them, her parents were pleased that she now had the guidance she needed to take her safely into young adulthood. It wasn't too long, though, before the teacher and her husband changed the nature of the relationship with overwhelming consequences for Mary-Rose. Consequences that kept her silent and ashamed through much of her adult life. Many years later, safe within a loving relationship, all of the long-hidden secrets and betrayals crashed down upon her and she came close to losing everything. In this poignant and brave true story, Mary-Rose brings these secrets to the surface and, in doing so, is finally able to watch them float away.

About the author

Mary-Rose MacColl's first novel, No Safe Place, was runner-up in the 1995 The Australian/Vogel's Literary award and her first non-fiction book, The Birth Wars, was a finalist in the 2009 Walkley Awards. Her international bestselling In Falling Snow was published to great acclaim in 2012. Her fifth novel, Swimming Home, won The Courier-Mail 2016 People's Choice Queensland book of the Year Award. Mary-Rose lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son.

Judges' Comments

For a Girl is a beautifully written memoir that is also brave and brutal. Mary-Rose MacColl tells the story of childhood sexual abuse and its devastating ongoing effects. In doing so her courage may provide solace for other victims, and despite the darkness of the subject matter it is love – and in this instance a mother’s love – MacColl reminds us that overcomes all. A novelist’s touch guides this memoir and provides an evocative sense of time and place that anchors the story, along with the ability to understand perspectives other than the author’s. The unflinching self-honesty that underpins For a Girl makes for compelling and intensely moving experiences and the lack of self-pity amplifies the heart breaking betrayal the author experiences. This is an important book which exposes the worst of human nature but is tempered by the incredible spirit and resilience of the author. For a Girl deserves a wide readership.

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Saltwater cover

Saltwater

Cathy McLennan

UQP

About the book

When Cathy McLennan first steps into Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service as a young graduate she isn’t expecting a major murder case to land on her desk. The accused are four teenage boys whose family connections stretch across the water to Palm Island. As she battles to prove herself in the courtroom, Cathy realises that the truth is far more complex than she first thought.  Saltwater tells the compelling story of one lawyer’s fight for justice amongst the beauty and the violence of this tropical paradise.

About the author

Cathy McLennan has more than twenty years’ experience in criminal law, from her early days working as a barrister for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service in North Queensland, to appearing in the High Court and deciding cases as a Queensland Magistrate. Cathy is well known for her dedication to vulnerable Queenslanders.

Judges' Comments

Cathy McLennan’s Saltwater is a powerful work of creative non-fiction. It wonderfully evokes tropical North Queensland, both in its natural beauty and its often troubled social environment – in particular the ongoing tragedy of Indigenous suffering relating to the criminal justice system. For outsiders, these issues of intergenerational disadvantage can seem baffling, but in McLennan’s work the realities of the Legal Aid service and the extraordinary people who dedicate themselves to it – often against the odds – are highlighted. Writing on topics that can become overcharged, McLennan tempers her own obvious passion for a cause, and shows the importance of community in building a healthier and fairer society. Hear ear for dialogue and her capturing of North Queensland life in all its complexity have given us a very fine work reflecting contemporary Australia.

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The Daintree Blockade cover

The Daintree Blockade: The Battle for Australia's Tropical Rainforests

Bill Wilkie

Four Mile Books

About the book

On 30 November 1983, the Douglas Shire Council commenced work on a road from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield in far north Queensland. The road was set to go through the recently declared Cape Tribulation National Park and some of the last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in the country. A small group of local residents organised a protest to stop work on the road. The media arrived, the police were called in, and when supporters of the protest arrived from southern states, the confrontation escalated into a full-blown environmental protest: the ‘Daintree blockade’.

About the author

Bill Wilkie is a nonfiction writer living in far north Queensland. His research has taken him from the National Library in Canberra to remote hippie camps in isolated tropical rainforests. His research and writing interests are Queensland’s Bjelke-Petersen years, the history of far north Queensland, the environment, and conservation issues. The Daintree Blockade is his first book.

Judges' Comments

The Daintree Blockade documents one of the most significant environmental protests in Queensland history: the Campaign to stop bulldozing of the road through the Cape Tribulation National Park in the early 1980s. The book is a richly illustrated, beautifully produced and immensely readable account of the politics and practice of environmental activism. Wilkie makes the story accessible – not a history text, but a riveting narrative and a photo essay of the protests. There are stunning and rare images plus many other documents and ephemera of the campaign, which add a vibrant and often humorous touch to the story. This action packed account contrasts the dogged determination and audacity of the protest groups with the ambitions of the developers, the local Council, and State Government, backed by strong police presence. With a rich underlay of the history, geography and ecology of the Daintree, the book evokes the unique sense of place that is North Queensland’s tropical rainforests, and shows how the protestors lost the battle but inspired the successful World Heritage status listing for the region in 1988.

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