Indie Books Awards shortlist, 2019, announced

And so it, starts, the Literary Awards trail! Early in the year will be the Stella Prize, but first up is the Indie Book Awards. These are lovely awards, because they are run by Australia’s Independent Booksellers – who are members of Leading Edge Books – and we love to support them don’t we? Consequently, I’ve decided to share them this year. (I don’t list every award, every year, but just select a few to give a flavour to the year’s Awards scene!)

The Press Release I received reminds us of the Awards’s role and history. They were established in 2008, and, they say, have developed “a well-deserved reputation for picking the best of the best in Australian writing”. They “recognise and celebrate this country’s incredible talent and the role independent booksellers play in supporting and nurturing Australian writing.”

Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards, and include Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things by Charlotte Wood (my review); Don Watson’s The bush (on my TBR); Richard Flanagan’s The narrow road to the deep north (my review); Anna Funder’s All that I am (still on my TBR); Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones (read before blogging); and Tim Winton’s Breath (my post).

The shortlisted books have been nominated by independent booksellers, but the winners in each category will be selected by judging panels. The booksellers, though, get to vote for their favourites in each category too. And, there is also an overall Book of the year which is what those examples I mentioned above won.)

The list seems a reasonable one though we could make the usual comments about diversity. There’s not a lot of it here, though indigenous writers (Marcia Langton, and Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina) appear in the categories I haven’t listed here.

The shortlist


  • Jane Harper’s The lost man (Macmillan Australia)
  • Kristina Olsson’s Shell (Scribner Australia) (Lisa’s review)
  • Tim Winton’s The shepherd’s hut (Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Markus Zusak’s Bridge of clay (Picador Australia)


  • Richard Glover’s The land before avocado (ABC Books, HarperCollins Australia): Mr Gums is reading this now
  • Chloe Hooper’s The arsonist (Penguin Random House Australia) (Lisa’s review)
  • Bri Lee’s Eggshell skull (Allen & Unwin)
  • Leigh Sales’ Any ordinary day (Penguin Random House Australia)

Trent Dalton, Boy swallows universeDebut fiction

  • Trent Dalton’s Boy swallows universe (HarperCollins Australia): (my review)
  • Chris Hammer’s Scrublands (Allen & Unwin)
  • Heather Morris’s The tattooist of Auschwitz (Echo Publishing) (Lisa’s review)
  • Christian White’s The nowhere child (Affirm Press)

There are also shortlists for Illustrated non-fiction, Children’s and Young Adult. For the full list, check out the website

The Winners will be announced on Monday 18 March, 2019 at the Leading Edge Books Annual Conference Awards Dinner, in Adelaide, SA.

The Indie Book Awards list their main sponsors for these awards: Peribo, Pan Macmillan Australia, Affirm Press, Allen & Unwin, Thames & Hudson Australia, Hardie Grant Egmont, Text Publishing, and Awards partner: Books+Publishing.  

Good Australian writing needs good Australian bookshops to prosper. Without them Australian writers are one more endangered species whose bush has been bulldozed.
(Richard Flanagan, Indie Book Awards 2014 Book of the Year,
The narrow road to the deep north)

12 thoughts on “Indie Books Awards shortlist, 2019, announced

  1. Snap! We must have both been sitting at our computers when the announcement came by email!
    Thanks for the links: I thought you had reviewed Boys Eats Universe, but it’s on your book group list so we’ll hear about it before long? My optometrist has read and loved it:)

    • Haha, yes, we probably were. I was working on preparing work for my volunteer work this afternoon – the preparation is tedious so I took a break to do this. When I checked your blog for those reviews you hadn’t yet published your post, but looks like you may have been about 20 minutes ahead of me in the end!

      My brother really loved Dalton too. He – Dalton I mean – spent part of his childhood in a part of Brisbane where I spent 6 years of my childhood so I’m really looking forward to it for that reason too as I understand the novel is autobiographical.

  2. WG: Before you open another book – read Anna Funder’s All That I Am. Brilliant and historically-based – chilling. Looking back to find shades of Dutton and his immediate predecessors here in Australia – especially the baseball cap wearer and his cycle-buddy – in controls over asylum-seekers – of those from the political left and of Jewish backgrounds in London in the 1930s – and the shadowy Nazi diplomats and others keeping watch and assassinating (with the appearance of suicide) various figures. As I said – chilling!

    • That’s a fair point Bill! There are a coulple, including Affirm Press who are supporters, as does Text, but … My sense is that the shortlist is largely popularity based – ie the books that sell the best at the Indie shops, but I might be wrong about that – while the winners are jury-based.

  3. Hi Sue, what a great selection, especially the fiction. All great reads. I went to a library event where Christian White spoke, and it was one of the best author nights I have been too. He was very informative and and he was very engaging. I will be very interested to read the winners!

  4. I think you’re right about popularity. Our indie book shop here has several reading groups (same book, different times). Once they announce the book it goes to no 1 because all book group members buy it. I just finished reading Shepherds Hut and the Arsonist and will post thoughts in near future.

  5. All these awards lists make me want to read more and more. I actually want to read more Australian literature so these lists may give me ideas. They will surly help to motivate me.

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