Indie Book Awards 2023 shortlist revealed, ahead of Independent Bookshop Week

book covers on Indie Book Awards banner

The Best Summer Reads as Picked by Independent Bookshops

  • 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


London, Friday 12 May 2023: 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 today.


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 https://www.booksaremybag.com/IndieBookAwards/About


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

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Midas:

Anna Zanetti, E: Anna.Zanetti@midaspr.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)758 312 7515

Henrietta Richardson, E: Henrietta.Richardson@midaspr.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)750 0828 340


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. Previous winners are:


Adult Fiction category:

2022: Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden

2021: Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

2020: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

2019: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

2018: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

2017: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

2016: The Green Road by Anne Enright

2015: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

2014: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

2013: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

2012: Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

2011: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

2010: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

2009: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

2008: Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

2007: Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky


Non-fiction category:

2022: House of Music -Raising the Kanneh-Masons by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason

2021: My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay

2020: Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem


Children’s Fiction category:

2022: When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Akhran Girmay

2021: Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan

2020: The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

2019: The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

2018: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

2017: A Poem for Every Night of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri

2016: Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

2015: An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls

2014: Flora & Ulysses by Kate Di Camillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

2013: Wonder by RJ Palacio

2012: One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson

2011: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

2010: Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo

2009: Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

2008: The Sleepwalker by Robert Muchamore

2007: Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo


Children’s Picture Book category:

2022: My Beautiful Voice by Joseph Coelho & Allison Colpoys

2021: The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

2020: Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton

2019: If All the World Were… by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys

2018: Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Emily Sutton

2017: Tidy by Emily Gravett

2016: Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie

2015: A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino

2014: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld


About The Booksellers Association (BA)

The Booksellers Association is the membership organization for booksellers in the UK & Ireland, and represents over 95% of booksellers. The BA exists to support, advise and work with its members to provide business-critical products and services for booksellers. These include National Book Tokens, our gift card which prompts increased footfall and keeps gift spending in the book trade; Batchline and Batch, our award-winning EPOS, stock management and payments service, which saves time, money and hassle when settling invoices and organising returns; a full range of money-saving affinity deals; a free Business Support Helpline; Booktime magazine; government lobbying and representation work across the nations and regions; networking opportunities and events; and Books Are My Bag, our range of consumer-facing activity and campaigns, which include Indie Book of the Month, Independent Bookshop Week, Bookshop Day, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, Christmas Books and Summer Books catalogues and more.


About Scala Radio

Scala Radio is a radio brand that breaks the mould of classical music in the UK. Through their passion for the music and conversation with the music makers and cultural icons, our presenters include Penny Smith, Angellica Bell, Mark Kermode, Charles Nove and Simon Mayo. Alongside familiar masters such as Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, you can expect to hear contemporary works including film, TV and video game scores, new critically acclaimed artistry and showtunes from musicals.  Music is also the antidote to our busy lifestyles and therefore mindfulness music plays a big part in what we do. Scala Radio really does provide Classical Music for Modern Life.