Indie Book Awards 2020: shortlist announced

DESPITE the challenges posed by coronavirus, Independent Bookshop Week is going ahead as planned this June in the UK. This will come as delightful news to worldwide readers of indie books, because the event will be hosted online –there will be author Q&As, virtual events and online story times to remotely attend. The highlight of the event will occur on the penultimate day, when the winners of the Indie Book Awards 2020 will be announced.

In anticipation of this event, the shortlist has been revealed. The four categories are divided into fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature and picture books, each shortlisting six books. Many of the authors will be familiar to readers – Bernadine Evaristo and Hallie Rubenhold have won prizes for their respective titles, while Julia Donaldson is the former Children’s laureate, and Sarah Crossan is the current Irish Children’s laureate. The diverse shortlist attests to the skill and imagination of the writers, whose books have been chosen by independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland.

Independent booksellers everywhere will be struggling in the thick of closed storefronts, so this annual celebration will have a principle role in vocalising the connections that reading inspires. Damian Barr, author of You Will Be Safe Here, said: “Every high street needs an indie just as it needs a bank and a post office and a library. Indie booksellers are champions for readers and writers – they can take a book and make it a conversation, because they know their customers. I am delighted to be shortlisted for this award by my heroes.”

His feelings are shared by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, author of Extraordinary Insects, who said: “I’d like to thank all the wonderful indie bookshops and booksellers out there – thank you for supporting and promoting us authors, by talking about our books to customers, creating beautiful in-store book displays and arranging unforgettable book events. I am so glad to work with you on this mission of mine: to make more readers learn to love the extraordinary lives of insects!”

Indie Book Awards Shortlist: Fiction

The fiction shortlist reflects a strong cohort of novels exploring the complexity of what it means to be human. It comprises of The Offing by Benjamin Myers, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak, You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr, Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

Indie Book Awards Shortlist: Non-Fiction

Delving into topics ranging from being on the medical frontline to the surprising lives of insects, the shortlisted non-fiction books showcase expert thinkers and their passions. The shortlist includes Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner, War Doctor by David Nott, The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold, Extraordinary Insects: Weird. Wonderful. Indispensable. The Ones Who Run Our World by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem, and No Win Race: A Story of Belonging, Britishness and Sport by Derek A. Bardowell.

Indie Book Awards Shortlist: Children’s Fiction

The children’s fiction category shortlist boasts stories about runaways, communication difficulties, family dynamics, underwater adventures and more, merging real life obstacles with the fantastical. The books selected are Toffee by Sarah Crossan, Deeplight by Frances Hardinge, Chinglish: An Almost Entirely True Story by Sue Cheung, The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf, The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll, and The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson.

Indie Book Awards Shortlist: Picture Book

In the final category, the captivating illustrations of the shortlisted picture books exemplify how much value there is in the visual – it’s evident that these books have been enjoyed by adults as much as children. They are: Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King-Chai, Greta and the Giants by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico, Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton, Alfie on Holiday by Shirley Hughes, I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Halls and Steve Small, and Franklin and Luna Go To The Moon by Jen Campbell, illustrated by Katie Harnett.

Choosing winners will undoubtedly prove difficult with such a riveting array of voices, each contributing something unique to contemporary readership. The judging panel will include authors, industry professionals and independent bookshops. Until then, we await Friday June 26 with bated breath, our bookmarks at the ready.

by Alice Hill-Woods