Sunday 14 May 2023

Indie Book Awards 2023 Shortlist Revealed


The Best Summer Reads as Picked by Independent Bookshops

Indie Book Awards 2023 Shortlist Revealed

Douglas Stuart, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Richard E Grant, Rachel Bright & Jim Field, Katherine Rundell, Kamila Shamsie, Louie Stowell and Jarvis among shortlisted authors
Best paperbacks for the summer selected by indie booksellers

Winners announced on Scala Radio on Friday 23 June

The shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2023, the annual awards curated exclusively by independent bookshops as part of Independent Bookshop Week (IBW, 17-24 June 2023), has been announced.

The awards celebrate the best paperbacks of the summer across four categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Picture Book – and are curated exclusively by the expertise of independent booksellers. The Indie Book Awards are part of Independent Bookshop Week, the annual campaign celebrating indie bookshops in the UK and Ireland between 17 and 24 June, organised by the Booksellers Association.

This year’s shortlist includes the Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart (Young Mungo), Oscar-nominated actor from Withnail and I and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Richard E. Grant (A Pocketful of Happiness), Women Prize-shortlisted author Barbara Kingsolver (Demon Copperhead), comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince (The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity), Nigerian writer named among the “BBC's 100 women of 2021” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Notes on Grief) and international best-selling fantasty author A F Steadman (Skandar and the Unicorn Thief).

A judging panel of independent booksellers will decide on the four winners, to be announced on Friday 23 June, the penultimate day of Independent Bookshop Week. The winners will be announced exclusively on Scala Radio, the official media partner of the Indie Book Awards, by Penny Smith at 10:30am.

The full Indie Book Awards 2023 shortlist:


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber)

You Made a Fool Out of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber & Faber)

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus)

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews (Raven Books)

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador)

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Picador)


Super Infinite by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber)

The Instant by Amy Liptrot (Canongate Books)

A Pocketful of Happiness by Richard E Grant (Simon & Schuster UK)

The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity by Robin Ince (Atlantic Books)

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate)

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change; Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism by Aja Barber (Brazen)


The Lost Whale by Hannah Gold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna (Welbeck Flame)

Marv and the Pool of Peril by Alex Falase-Koya, pictures by Paula Bowles (Oxford University Press)

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A F Steadman (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)

The Elemental Detectives by Patrice Lawrence (Scholastic)

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Ruling the World by Louie Stowell (Walker Books)


A Hero Like Me by Jen Reid and Angela Joy, illustrated by Leire Salaberria (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

John Agard’s Windrush Child by John Agard, illustrated by Sophie Bass (Walker Books)

The Boy With Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis (Walker Books)

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)

The Gecko and the Echo by Rachel Bright & Jim Field (Orchard Books)

Timid by Harry Woodgate (Little Tiger)

The Adult categories judging panel consists of Tom Rowley (Backstory, London), Olivia Rosenthall (Maldon Books), Nik Lowe (The Book Stop, St Helens), Lizz de Saulles (Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books & More, Bristol), Mel Griffin (Griffin Books, Penarth).

The Children’s categories will be judged by Alan Flack (The Wonky Tree Bookshop, Leyburn), Liz Tye (Next Page Books, Hitchin), Kayleigh Diggle (Liznojan Books, Tiverton), Emma Corfield-Walters (Book-ish, Crickhowell).

Hannah Gold, author of The Lost Whale, said: “To be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards for the second-year running is such a huge honour! The Lost Whale covers topics especially close to my heart - the devastating impact of humans on our beautiful marine life but also on a more positive note, the beneficial effects of nature upon our mental health. I call it my love letter to the ocean and I feel especially touched by the support of the independent booksellers, not just of my writing, but also of my goal to ignite a passion for the environment in the hearts of our children. Over the past two years, I have loved seeing my relationship with independent booksellers grow and flourish and one of my favourite things is going to visit them - especially when they offer cake! They really are the true champions of the high street, especially in children's publishing - often hand selling books to their community and being a beacon of hope and compassion in difficult times.”

Skye McKenna, author of Hedgewitch, said: “Independent bookshops are vital to our communities, helping children to develop a love for reading with personal recommendations and providing a safe space for them to explore and discover. Indies across the UK have been incredibly supportive of my debut novel, Hedgewitch, and I've loved working with them to deliver events and book clubs throughout the year. I am delighted to be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2023 and look forward to meeting more brilliant independent booksellers.”

Amy Liptrot, author of The Instant, said: “I’m really pleased to hear that my book The Instant is up for an Indie Book Award. Individual booksellers have been so important in spreading the word about my books and I’ve often been encouraged just when I’ve needed it by their support, so it’s great that this prize is voted for by them.”

Jen Reid, author of A Hero Like Me, alongside Angela Joy, said: “I was both proud and very excited to learn that A Hero Like Me had been shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards. I cannot wait to share my inspiring story with the younger generations and I hope this beautiful book will inspire them.”

Emily St John Mandel, author of Sea of Tranquility, said: "I am thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted! My first three books were published by a very small press in North America—I didn't even have a UK publisher for them—and independent booksellers championed those books at a time when very few people read my work. I remain immensely grateful for that, and as a reader, there are few spaces I love more than independent bookshops."

Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the best paperback reads of the summer in the shortlist of the Indie Book Awards. This year’s shortlist is full of brilliant authors and as they are judged by independent booksellers, you can be sure they’ll be spot-on recommendations for your summer reading list – spanning throught-proviking non-fiction, absorbing novels, delightful picture books and entertaining children’s fiction. We encourage all book-lovers to explore the shortlist, and maybe grab a book or two from your nearest indie bookshop.”

For more information about the Indie Book Awards and previous winners, please visit

Follow the latest developments via social media: #IndieBookshopWeek #IndieBookAwards @BooksAreMyBag

About Independent Bookshop Week (IBW)

Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) was launched in 2006 and is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign. It is a celebration of independent bookshops nationwide, and the role ‘indies’ play in their communities. At the end of 2022, the number of independent bookshops in BA membership grew to 1072 shops, up from 867 in 2016. The headline sponsor of Independent Bookshop Week is Hachette UK.

About the Indie Book Awards

Formerly known as the Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards, the Indie Book Awards are voted for by independent bookshops and judged by a panel of independent booksellers.

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