24 April 2023

Lucy Neave's Believe in Me awarded ACT Book of the Year 2022

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Lucy Neave accepting the ACT Book of the Year award 2022

Lucy Neave’s second novel, Believe in Me, was announced as the 2022 ACT Book of the Year at Civic Library on 24 April. Photo: Lizzie Waymouth.

Dr Lucy Neave’s novel Believe in Me has been named the ACT Book of the Year 2022. The $10,000 prize was announced by Minister for the Arts Tara Cheyne this morning (24 April).

The judges, Sam Faulkner, Jasper Lindell and Patrick Mullins, also awarded three highly commended and three shortlisted books. The full finalists were:

  • Winner: Believe in Me by Lucy Neave
  • Highly Commended: The Kindness of Birds by Merlinda Bobis
  • Highly Commended: Milk by Dylan van den Berg
  • Highly Commended: Killernova by Omar Musa
  • Shortlisted: Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium: A History of Afghanistan Through Clothes, Carpets and the Camera by Tim Bonyhady
  • Shortlisted: Failures of Command: The Death of Private Robert Poate by Hugh Poate
  • Shortlisted: As Beautiful As Any Other: A Memoir of My Body by Kaya Wilson.

Acknowledging the calibre of this year’s finalists, Lucy said she felt “really fortunate to have sort of won the lottery this time” – particularly as she had read some of the other entrants and thought they were “fantastic”.

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Lucy Neave is a senior lecturer in creative writing and associate dean of the student experience at the ANU. Believe in Me is her second novel – her first, What We Were – was shortlisted for ACT Book of the Year in 2014.

Believe in Me is a profound and personal exploration of the relationship between mother and child across multiple generations.

Like What We Were, Believe in Me takes place in Australia and the US – no doubt influenced by her time as a Fulbright scholar and a visiting scholar at NYU.

The judges said: “Lucy Neave’s second novel Believe in Me moves across continents and time, telling an expansive story that vividly explores the bonds of motherhood, the fragility of knowing, and familial inheritance.

Believe in Me questions whether we can ever truly know of our parents’ early lives, even as their experiences weave ineffably into our identities and destinies. Neave writes assuredly and is never weighed down by her subject matter.”

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Both Lucy Neave and Minister Cheyne took the opportunity to highlight how important awards like ACT Book of the Year are in supporting local writers and highlighting the literary talent on our doorstep.

“I’m very grateful to the ACT Government for continuing to support arts and culture,” Lucy said.

Explaining why literary works are so important, she added: “Literary works ask really complicated questions about how we live, and they often make people uncomfortable in the way that they ask questions.”

“They demand that people think about aspects of our society and the way we go about our business. And so, therefore, I think art has a really important role to play in society.

“It’s a huge benefit winning this literary award because often literary novels like mine don’t actually sell particularly well.

“So to have $10,000 as part of this award is really important to be able to keep writing.”

Lucy is working on her next book, True Animal War Music, which comprises three interconnected novellas exploring the idea of war as a backdrop to our lives.

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“I hope the recognition of all of the works honoured today will inspire and motivate you and other aspiring authors in the ACT,” Minister Cheyne said.

“Everyone here now has a role in finding the shortlisted books in our public libraries and in our local bookstores, moving them to the front if they aren’t already, and to recommend them to our friends and family.”

Nominations for the 2023 ACT Book of the Year will open on Monday, 1 May.

Believe in Me is published by UQP. To find out more about the ACT Book of the Year, visit the artsACT website.

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