The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Indie Book Awards 2023 Winners Announced

The top books of the summer according to independent booksellers have just been revealed, as the winners for the Indie Book Awards 2023 are announced today, the penultimate day of Independent Bookshop Week (17-24 June).

The winner in the Fiction category is Demon Copperhead (Faber and Faber) by Barbara Kingsolver, a clever retelling of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield that won the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year and last week won the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Meanwhile, internationally acclaimed writer and TED talk speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the Non-Fiction prize with Notes on Grief (Fourth Estate), a touching meditation on the loss of the author’s father, described by The Guardian as “both emotional and austere, spare and yet spiritually nutritious…a work of dignity and of unravelling.”
Winning in the Children’s Fiction category is Skandar and the Unicorn Thief  (Simon & Schuster Children’s) by international best-selling fantasy author A F Steadman, an epic adventure of unlikely heroes, elemental magic, sky battles, ancient secrets, nail-biting races and ferocious unicorns. Taking home the Picture Book prize is Jarvis with The Boy With Flowers in His Hair (Walker Books), a beautifully illustrated and sensitively told story about being there for someone when they are at their most vulnerable.
Celebrating the best paperback books of the summer as voted for exclusively by independent booksellers, the Indie Book Awards are the best reads for the hot season, hand-picked by the experts in the field. The winners were announced this morning on Penny Smith’s show on Scala Radio, the official media partner of the Indie Book Awards.
Barbara Kingsolver said: “I love independent booksellers – I owe them everything, I owe them my career. When I was first starting out, writing my first novel The Bean Trees that nobody had ever heard of, it was the independent booksellers who took this book and put it into people’s hands – in my town, in my country, and over here in the UK. I’m so aware of what I owe to the booksellers, who know books, read books and care. So there’s really no award that I can think of that would be more gratifying for me, thinking back of my own career, than this award. Thank you.”
A F Steadman said: “It is such an honour to win an Indie Book Award for Skandar and the Unicorn Thief. I’m so grateful to all the independent booksellers who have taken these ferocious unicorns into their hearts and helped them find their way to new readers. What an absolute dream come true!”
Jarvis said: “I’m so happy that The Boy with Flowers in His Hair has been named the best picture book at the Indie Book Awards 2023. I’m thrilled that this book has resonated with so many people. And I know many have discovered the book at their local indie book shop. Thank you to the independent booksellers for being so creative, unique, and interesting. We all think you’re very cool. As an author and illustrator all I can do is try and put as much love into making books as I can. And it’s so nice to be given an award from people who are in love with books.”
The judging panel of the awards’ Adult categories consisted of booksellers 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) and was chaired by Mel Griffin (Griffin Books, Penarth).
The Children’s categories were 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).

Mel Griffin from Griffin Books, Chair of the Adult Categories Judging Panel, said: “It was a privilege to chair the 2023 Indie Book Awards, and the whole panel agreed that the shortlists were particularly strong this year, making the decision-making process challenging. However, in the end we unanimously selected Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the non-fiction winner. This utterly beautiful essay says so much in very few pages, and we found it extraordinarily powerful.  Although it focuses on one individual's experience of grief, we felt that it would speak to many people, transcending culture and circumstances, with one judge describing the reading experience as 'cathartic'.
When it came to the novels the judging panel was torn between two outstanding titles, but in the end settled on Barbara Kingsolver's Demon Copperhead for the award. It is a wonderfully written, powerful book with important themes, and we felt the author's ability to write so convincingly in the voice of the young male protagonist was extraordinary.  Cleverly based around the story of David Copperfield without ever feeling contrived, it is a novel to be savoured, which left its mark on us all and perhaps it will inspire some to rediscover Charles Dickens into the bargain! We look forward to recommending all the titles to our customers this summer and beyond."
The winners of the Indie Book Awards have been or will be presented with their awards in indie bookshops during Independent Bookshop Week:
  • Barbara Kingsolver has already been presented with her award at Stoke Newington Bookshop (London).
  • Jarvis will be receiving his award at Chorlton Bookshop (Manchester), on Friday 23 June 2023 at 2.30pm. 
Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns, Booksellers Association, said: “It might be the penultimate day of Independent Bookshop Week today, but summer is just getting started, and the Indie Book Awards winners provide some top-notch recommendations for your summer reading! We are delighted to reveal the winning titles and authors, as picked by brilliant independent booksellers. From Pulitzer-winning novels to epic tales of unicorns, the winning books are sure to bring readers of all ages hours of entertainment this summer. Huge congratulations to all the winners, and we look forward to celebrating them in their local indie bookshops.”
For more information about the Indie Book Awards and previous winners, please visit
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