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UC Book of the Year 2013: Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones  Craig Silvey

Jasper Jones: a novel / by Craig Silvey

Published by Allen and Unwin, 2009

Full of unforgettable characters, a page-turning pace and outrageously good dialogue, this is a glorious novel - thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking and wise - about outsiders and secrets, and what it really means to be a hero.

Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

Biography of Author, Craig Silvey

"Since the journey of a written story is always taken alone and pondered internally, literature is so often about the private connection made between the writer and the reader. This project is special because it's about reading as an act of community, broadening the conversation and sharing the intimate experience. I am absolutely thrilled to be involved with the inaugural University of Canberra Book Project as well as humbled that Jasper Jones was selected for such an important task." Craig Silvey

Craig Silvey grew up on an orchard in Dwellingup, WA. At 19 he wrote his first novel, Rhubarb, published by Fremantle Press in 2004. Rhubarb was chosen as the 'One Book' for the Perth International Writers' Festival, and was included in the 'Books Alive' campaign. Silvey also received a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Award. Silvey's second novel, Jasper Jones was released in 2009 and won Indie Book of the Year Award 2009, Indie Book of the Year 2009 - Fiction, ABIA Book of the Year 2010, ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2010 and the 2009 WA Premier's Literary Award for Fiction. Jasper Jones was also shortlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award, 2010 NSW Premier's Literary Award, Christina Stead Prize for fiction, 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction and the 2011 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award. Outside of literature, Silvey is the singer/songwriter for the band The Nancy Sikes!


'If we see a more entertaining, heartfelt piece of Australian literature in the next 12 months, it will be a rare year indeed - an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird.' - The Monthly

'It's genius.' - West Australian

'... impossible to put down ... There's tension, injustice, young love, hypocrisy ... and, above all, the certainty that Silvey has planted himself in the landscape as one of our finest storytellers.' - Australian Women's Weekly

'Jasper Jones confronts inhumanity and racism, as the stories of Mark Twain and Harper Lee did. Silvey's voice is distinctive: astute, witty, angry, understanding and self-assured.' - Weekend Australian

'Jasper Jones is a riveting tale, studded with laugh-out-loud and life-affirming moments yet underpinned by a clear-eyed examination of human weaknesses and misdemeanours.' - Adelaide Advertiser

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We would like to thank Allen and Unwin for their kind permission to reproduce the illustrations which appear at the top of this page.