top of page
  • AusIndieBooks


Australian independent booksellers are thrilled to announce their Shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2021, their favourite Australian books published in 2020!

Established in 2008, the Indie Book Awards recognise and celebrate this country’s incredible literary talent and who better to nominate and judge the best-of-the-best than indie booksellers – the ultimate champions of great Australian writing!

Who will win each category in 2021?

Who will take out the overall ‘2021 Book of the Year’ Award?!

The Category Winners and the Overall Book of the Year Winner will be announced at a virtual awards event on Monday 22 March 2021.

The Shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2021 is:


All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Australia)

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan (Knopf Australia)

Mammoth by Chris Flynn (University of Queensland Press)

Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)


Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (Fourth Estate Australia)

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku (Macmillan Australia)

People of the River by Grace Karskens (Allen & Unwin)

Truganini by Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin)


The Bluffs by Kyle Perry (Michael Joseph Australia)

Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson (Hachette Australia)

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu (Allen & Unwin)

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Affirm Press)


Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong by Samantha Bloom, Cameron Bloom & Bradley Trevor Greive (ABC Books, HarperCollins Australia)

Plantopedia by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan (Smith Street Books)

Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull (Hardie Grant Books)

In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky (Murdoch Books)


The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly (Lothian Children's Books) Sing Me The Summer by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Alison Lester (Affirm Press) The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press) Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Lothian Children's Books)


Future Girl by Asphyxia (Allen & Unwin Children's)

Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin Children's)

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin Children's)

This One is Ours by Kate O'Donnell (University of Queensland Press)

The twenty-four shortlisted books, the best titles of the year as nominated by Australian independent booksellers themselves, will be vying for the top spot as the Overall Indie ‘Book of the Year’ for 2021. Panels of expert judges (all indie booksellers and avid readers) will choose the winners in the six book categories – Fiction, Debut Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustrated Non-Fiction, Children’s books (up to 12yo) and Young Adult (12+). Independent booksellers from around the country will then vote to select their favourite book of the year from the six category winners.

Since the Awards inception in 2008, the Indies have a well-deserved reputation for picking the best of the best in Australian writing. Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards. Previous winners include: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton; Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend; The Dry by Jane Harper; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; The Bush by Don Watson; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; All That I Am by Anna Funder; The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and Breath by Tim Winton.

The Awards recognise and celebrate indie booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors. What makes our Indies uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year to their customers and readers, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of the Australian reading public by recommending books beyond the big brands, and their love of quality writing.

Statements from some of the 2021 Indie Book Awards shortlisted authors:

“I am thrilled to be shortlisted for the 2021 Indie Book Awards and I’d like to say why.

The Dictionary of Lost Words was published just days into Australia’s first pandemic lockdown. The timing was awful for a debut novel and I lowered all expectations that my book would find its tribe of readers. But then something wonderful happened – independent booksellers refused to shut up shop. While their doors might have been closed, they found myriad ways to get books into the hands of people who would enjoy them, perhaps even need them, during the long weeks of isolation. As a reader and a writer, I was enormously grateful.

Australian independent booksellers helped my novel thrive at a time when it seemed least likely. If I were in the business of giving out awards for outstanding achievement in 2020, independent booksellers would certainly make the shortlist. For this reason, it is a particularly special honour that The Dictionary of Lost Words has been short listed for a 2021 Indie Book Award.”

—Pip Williams, The Dictionary of Lost Words (Affirm Press)

“I am shocked and delighted to be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards, especially to be amongst such esteemed company! Mammoth was released just as the pandemic tightened its grip on Australian society. Rather than postponing, we forged ahead and I'm so glad we did. Despite all the obstacles, independent bookstores made this book a success. I will be forever grateful for that. As a former bookstore employee, I was determined to do my small part in keeping the wolves from the doors by providing an uplifting title that offered a little hope and light and laughter in an otherwise grim year. The relationship between independent bookstores and authors is symbiotic, and vital. As you have been Mammoth's champion, I will always be yours.”

—Chris Flynn, Mammoth (UQP)

“It’s a genuine honour to be counted among the good books by those who really know: our independent booksellers.”

—Richard Flanagan, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams (Knopf Australia)

“Thank you so much for supporting my book and spreading my message of hope and happiness. In a year when I was not able to visit bookshops myself, it has meant so much to know that so many people are reading my words and sharing joy. At 100 years of age, I am so proud and excited to be a debut Australian writer!”

—Eddie Jaku, The Happiest Man on Earth (Macmillan Australia)

“I'm thrilled to be selected as a finalist for the Indie Book Awards! How glorious it is that even after a hundred and fifty years, indie books, publishers and booksellers are still thriving in Australia. Thank you, indie booksellers, for championing The Grandest Bookshop in the World and keeping the spirit of Cole's Book Arcade alive!”

—Amelia Mellor, The Grandest Bookshop in the World (Affirm Press)

“Thank you for shortlisting Plantopedia! To receive this recognition from the passionate booksellers who provide such a brilliant platform for the book is a real honour. To know that people are exploring the world of indoor gardening and loving it as we do is hugely gratifying.”

—Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan, Plantopedia (Smith Street Books)

“I’m thrilled and very grateful that Sing Me the Summer is on the Indie Book Awards shortlist. Independent bookshops contribute so much to our culture and community, and it’s often a labour of love. I value them deeply, and so it means a lot to me to be shortlisted for this award. Thank you.”

—Jane Godwin, Sing Me the Summer, illustrated by Alison Lester (Affirm Press)

“I’m very happy that Sing Me the Summer is on the Indie Book Awards shortlist. It was a joy to illustrate this book for Janie Godwin. I love Australia’s independent bookshops - they shine like lighthouses of knowledge and beauty and give hope to us all for a better world. Thank you.”

—Alison Lester, Illustrator, Sing Me the Summer by Jane Godwin (Affirm Press)

Leading Edge Books would like to gratefully acknowledge and thank the SPONSORS OF THE INDIE BOOK AWARDS 2021 CAMPAIGN: Shawline Publishing Group, Pan Macmillan Australia, Affirm Press, Simon & Schuster Australia, Thames & Hudson, Hachette Australia and Text Publishing and AWARDS PARTNER: CirclePOS.


bottom of page