Asphyxia wins the Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2021

We are beyond delighted to announce Future Girl by Asphyxia as the winner of the 2021 Readings Young Adult (YA) Book Prize. An immersive story that is informed by Asphyxia’s experience as a Deaf person, Future Girl tells the story of Piper, a Deaf girl living in near-future Melbourne. The novel format invites the reader into Piper’s vivid art journal, where every page is adorned with full-colour illustrations.

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The task of choosing a winner from such a strong shortlist was not easy. We would like to congratulate all our shortlisted authors: Rawah Arja (The F Team), Davina Bell (The End of the World Is Bigger than Love), Gary Lonesborough (The Boy from the Mish), Cath Moore (Metal Fish, Falling Snow) and Christie Nieman (Where We Begin), and thank them for their wonderful titles that we look forward to recommending for years to come!

To make the final decision, four staff judges – Xiao-Xiao Kingham (Readings Kids), Bianca Looney (Readings Kids), Kealy Siryj (Readings Kids) and Cindy Morris (Readings Online) – were joined by the marvellous Erin Gough, author of The Flywheel and the 2018 Readings YA Prize-winning Amelia Westlake.

Across the board, Future Girl was the stand-out title for the judges. Graphic novels are all the rage right now, and readers are increasingly drawn to books with visual elements. Future Girl offers something completely unique, occupying a space between graphic novel and novel. Its detailed illustrations explore Piper’s experiences as she learns to navigate a hearing world that continually fails to accommodate her. Her coming-of-age story, as she embraces Deaf culture and learns to raise her voice to define her own space in the world, is nothing short of enlightening and powerful.

Asphyxia welcomed the news of her win, commenting: ‘I am so thrilled to learn that I am the winner of the Readings YA Book Prize 2021! What an incredible honour. Readings has long been my favourite bookshop, where I have spent many happy hours browsing, being inspired, and buying books, and it is so special to have my book honoured in this way. I am very touched to read the words of the judges too – they meant a lot to me. For me, the best thing about winning is knowing that more people are likely to read Future Girl, and that the world might be a slightly better place for Deaf people as a result.’

Guest judge Gough added: ‘ Future Girl was a stand-out for me for its authentic voice, its contemporary themes and its uniqueness. As an object, the book combines the visual and the written word, inviting us to examine the dominance of traditional forms of storytelling and communication, just as the narrative does. I loved Piper’s journey towards self-sufficiency and Deaf culture. I loved her activism. In Future Girl , Asphyxia has created a world that is visually rich, dystopic yet hopeful, and utterly absorbing.’

Since it began in 2016, the Readings YA Book Prize has highlighted the work of Australian YA authors early in their careers. Zana Fraillon, whose novel The Bone Sparrow was awarded the inaugural prize in 2017, later went on to win the internationally recognised Amnesty CILIP Honour. Subsequent winners of the prize include Erin Gough (Amelia Westlake), Eleni Hale (Stone Girl) and Lisa Fuller (Ghost Bird). Commenting on the prize, Gough said: ‘I speak from experience when I say what a valuable platform this prize gives emerging writers of young adult fiction. I particularly love its focus on stories that bring something new and that resonate with teens. It was a special pleasure to judge alongside booksellers with such a deep knowledge of the YA landscape and readership.’

You can support Asphyxia and the Readings YA Book Prize by picking up a copy of Future Girl at any Readings shop or on the Readings website. This is a very special book, and we look forward to placing Future Girl into the hands of readers.

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Future Girl

Future Girl

Asphyxia

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