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Shortlist for Australian Christian book of the year announced

The biggest annual Australian award dedicated to homegrown Christian literature has announced its 2017 shortlist. Among the varied finalists are an indigenous art book, a personal theology of work, an analysis of the Middle-East and an intimate sharing about caring for a sick child.

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“I can look at a lot of these books and think, ‘I’d love them all to win,'” said Kris Argall, senior editor at Acorn Press, about the shortlist for the 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year.

Started in 1981, the annual award has “turned into Australia’s main event for celebrating Christian writing,” according to Argall. “It is a big deal.”

Acorn Press is one of Australia’s leading publishers of Christian literature but none of its latest releases made the shortlist this year. However, Argall did edit one of the finalists – Elizabeth Kendal’s After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East.

A veteran editor on the small yet substantial Christian literature scene in Australia, Argall said it will be hard for the judging panel to select a winner in October from the range of genres represented.

“It’s like comparing apples with oranges,” noted Argall about the ten books on the shortlist, before emphasising that the number one choice is not the main thing she is enthusiastic about.

“I’m less encouraged by who wins the award than I am by the gathering together to celebrate Christian writing.”

Michael Collie, National Director of SparkLit, which organises the awards, said that 52 books were submitted for the 2107 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.

…the Award is chosen based upon originality, writing style, design, and the how the book contributes to a need in the Australian Christian landscape.

“The Award is open to fiction, apologetics, biography, theology, poetry, testimony, guides and handbooks,” said Collie, indicating how Australia does not have the volume of Christian literature to demand separate award categories. However, SparkLit also annually announces Young Australian and Teen Writer Award winners.

The Australian Christian Book of the Year is awarded to an original book written by an Australian citizen. Last year’s winner was Child, Arise by Jane N. Dowling, a book about living with the long-term effects of sexual abuse.

Seeking to acknowledge and encourage excellence in Australian Christian writing, the Award is chosen based upon originality, writing style, design, and the how the book contributes to a need in the Australian Christian landscape.

“This is not a buy-Australian campaign,” emphasised Collie. “Books shortlisted for the Australian Christian Book of the Year Award are great books.”

Until 2014, submissions for the Award had to be written by an Australian citizen and published by an Australian publisher. Since 2015, the Award has opened up to books written by Australian citizens but published anywhere in the world.

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