Indie Book Awards Winners 2021

The Indie Book Awards were established in 2008 with the aim of creating a unique award recognising and rewarding the best Australian writing as chosen by Australian independent booksellers. The Awards celebrate the enormous depth and range of literary talent in this nation.

Indie Book of the Year + Debut Fiction

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

In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative,  hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape our experience of the world.

Fiction

Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)

Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette.

The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other. 

Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words.

Non-Fiction

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (Fourth Estate Australia)

Phosphorescence is a beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.

We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance of achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? An intimate, achingly beautiful and inspiring exploration of the ways we can pursue awe, wonder and purpose, from one of our best, most perceptive writers.

Illustrated Non-Fiction

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

Houseplants have the power to transform any room. With their lush foliage and structural beauty, they help create indoor oases that bring a sense of tranquility to our busy lives. Fostering a connection to plants has many positive implications for us and our environment by strengthening our relationship with the natural world.

In Plantopedia, Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan from Leaf Supply present the definitive guide to keeping happy, healthy houseplants in any space. Featuring more than 130 plant profiles including foliage plants, succulents and cacti, as well as rarer gems of the plant world.

Children’s

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

In 1893, Cole’s Book Arcade in Melbourne is the grandest bookshop in the world, brimming with every curiosity imaginable. Each day brings fresh delights for the siblings: voice-changing sweets, talking parrots, a new story written just for them by their eccentric father.

When Pearl and Vally learn that Pa has risked the Arcade – and himself – in a shocking deal with the mysterious Obscurosmith, the siblings hatch a plan. Soon they are swept into a dangerous game with impossibly high stakes: defeat seven challenges by the stroke of midnight and both the Arcade and their father will be restored. But if they fail Pearl and Vally won’t just lose Pa – they’ll forget that he and the Arcade ever existed.

Young Adult

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

Sixteen-year-old Sofie is a dreamer, an artist and a romantic. So when she goes on exchange to Paris, she is expecting magnificent adventures of the heart and mind. Yet France isn’t what she imagined. It’s cold and grey, and she finds speaking another language exhausting. Sofie’s more homesick than lovesick.

But then her host sister, Delphine, and fellow artist Olivier show her a different side of Paris, and Sofie starts to question her ideas of art, beauty and meaning. Of everything. There’s truth in what her best friend, Crow, has been saying all along: the world is in crisis and people need to take notice.

But what can one girl do? Will Sofie be able to find the courage to fight for change?