Pete Hay’s Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island’s Soul has been awarded The Small Press Network’s Book of the Year Award 2020.
Tasmanian author, poet, academic and activist, Pete Hay has been awarded Small Press Network’s Book of the Year Award 2020 for Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island’s Soul published by Walleah Press.
Forgotten Corners is Hay’s second volume of essays which gives a voice to themes including animals and ancestors, people and plants, the artist and the artefact.
Judges of this year’s BOTY Award include Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang who, in a collective statement, described Hay’s book as a ‘truly unexpected gem.’
The judges praised Hay’s rebellious yet pragmatic spirit: ‘There is no doubt that such “dissident” thought is at the heart of this collection. But the great delight is Hay’s quiet mastery of the literary essay. Hay is thoughtful. Down-to-earth. Often self-effacing. His streams of self and societal reflection feel clear and refreshing even – or perhaps especially – while pulling the reader through treacherous currents.’
The win is true to the roots of the award which was previously called the Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA) with winners including last year’s historical fantasy novel Songwoman, Marcus Westbury’s Creating Cities and this year’s judge Jane Rawson’s early novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists.
‘I don’t write because I think I’ve profound truths that other people would benefit from having exposure to. I don’t write to provide anyone with answers, I write to provide people with dilemmas.’
– Pete Hay
For judge Melissa Cranenburgh, a writer, broadcaster, editor and educator, judging the awards led her to really appreciate the quality of writing by lesser known authors and the work small presses are doing to promote them.
‘The award gave me a chance to really delve into what small press publishing is doing and the shortlisted authors really represented the best kind of visionary work small presses are doing,’ she told ArtsHub.
Ralph Wessman, Publisher at Walleah Press said Hay has a unique way of approaching his writing: ‘I recall a conversation years past when Pete had suggested “I don’t write because I think I’ve profound truths that other people would benefit from having exposure to. I don’t write to provide anyone with answers, I write to provide people with dilemmas. My essays – even my poetry lately – are written to set up tensions that are ultimately not resolved. I explore the tensions, but I don’t conclude.'”
Earlier this year, SPN made the decision to change the direction of its award to shift the focus from the books being ‘underrated’ which was a barrier for authors entering the awards. As a result of this strategy, five times as many entries were received this year for its newly named Book of the Year Award.
ArtsHub is a co-sponsor of the SPN Book of the Year Award.