Most Underrated Book Award 2017 Shortlis October 21, 2017 – Posted in: Blog

The Australian Booksellers Association sponsors the Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA). The MUBA is designed to highlight titles that did not get the sales or recognition they deserved at the time of release What I love about this award is that books that seem initially unconventional can be appreciated. This list contains a graphic novel, a photographic masterpiece, “microfiction” and thinker’s books. There are some wonderful books that come out of the Small Press Network that need to be recognized and supported. This is only the small selection of some of the unique and fascinating books that are currently being published. They remind me that regardless of the genre, book form or style of writing, there is much to learn from our Australian Authors.

This years most Underrated Book Award 2017 SHORTLIST


The Invisible War (Scale Free Network collaboration) by Alisa Wild (writer), Ben Hutchings



(illustrator),Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti, Jeremy Barr
Publisher: The Scale Free Network


One Nurse.

Trillions of microbes

A deadly WWI battle…

France, 1916. While treating a patient with dysentery, Sister Annie Barnaby encounters a strain of lethal bacteria. As the invaders journey deep into her gut, the resident microbes must fight to survive. Annie’s life hangs in the balance.

Enter the phage, deadly predators, ready to wage war to protect their host.

Created by a team of scientists, artists, educators, writers & historians, The Invisible War is a graphic novel like no other

Goodreads review: A wonderful book that provides a fascinating insight into the war fought on two levels during WWI. Recommended for any lover of history or science. With great images highlighting the science of dysentry and how it affected the lives of those fighting and helping in WWI. (George)

Loopholes by Susan McCreery
Publisher: Spineless Wonders
These perfectly formed microfictions provide glimpses into the everyday challenges of family life, relationships, ageing and loss. McCreery’s characters are typical humans – flawed, vulnerable, frustrating and frustrated. Told with empathy and wit and honed with a wordsmith’s skill, Loopholes makes us see ourselves and each other differently.

With illustrations by Bettina Kaiser

‘To succeed, microfiction must combine efficiency of text with immediacy of imagery and neat narrative twists, all in a space small enough for a single reading. It’s an art form that Susan McCreery shows a masterly command of.’
Hilary Simmons, BOOKS + PUBLISHING


The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle
Publisher: Brow Books (The Lifted Brow)

In a not-too-distant future perpetually on the brink of collapse, catastrophe is our most popular entertainment.

The energy crisis has come and gone. EcoLaw is enforced by insidious cartoon panda bears and their armies of viral-marketing children. The world watches as Pitcairn Island sinks into the Pacific, wondering if this, finally, will be the end of everything. Amongst it all, Max Galleon, anxious family man and blockbuster auteur, lives a life that he cannot remember.

What happens when you can outsource your memories – and even edit them?

When death can be reversed through digitisation, what is the point of living?

If the lines between real and unreal are fully blurred, can you really trust anyone, even yourself?

Horse Island by Christina Laidley Kennedy, photography by Jason Busch
Publisher: Zabriskie Books
Horse Island, the private retreat of Christina and Trevor Kennedy, sits tucked away in an estuary of Tuross Lake on the South Coast of NSW. To the west, softened by distance, are the mountains of the Great Dividing Range. To the east is the sea. But what is most surprising in this place of great natural beauty is the remarkable garden created by Christina, featuring only Australian indigenous plants.

This great garden reveals itself gradually – as did Christina’s own passion in its creation. Gardens and gardening had always been around Christina, but were not in the foreground until she was faced with the mess and devastation of the landscape when she began her first building project on the island. A timely suggestion from a friend directed her towards native plants. Christina’s own desire to complement and enhance the existing natural beauty then took shape, forming the basis of her thinking and of all her designs. To visit the Island is to engage with Christina’s passion, her knowledge and enthusiasm for Australian plants, and to hear her stories about all she has discovered including her mistakes and learning curves, during the long process of creating the garden.

‘Horse Island’, the book, reflects Christina’s own desire to share the true magic of an extraordinary place. We walk beside her as she guides us around the island encouraging us to think differently about native plants and how they are used in a domestic situation. It is the author’s own gardening story, her total zeal for and commitment to indigenous plants combined with gorgeous photography that creates this truly beautiful book.


Previous winners
2012: The Cook (Wayne Macauley, Text)
2013: Fish-Hair Woman (Merlinda Bobis, Spinifex Press)
2014: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (Jane Rawson, Transit Lounge)
2015: Grapple Annual No. 1 (ed Duncan Felton, Grapple Publishing)
2016: Building Cities (Marcus Westbury, Niche)