Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 16, 2017

2017 Indie Book Awards Shortlist

Update 21/3/17 I have updated this to indicate the winners: titles in bold won that category.

#EpicFail: I’ve only read one of these.  Either I am reading all the wrong books, or they are.

(If you look at my post about the longlist, you can see why I am disappointed on behalf of some very fine authors omitted from the fiction shortlist: Georgia Blain, Steve Amsterdam, Emily Maguire).  But maybe we should just rename these The Bestsellers Awards and be done with it.)

All links are to Readings bookshop.



Debut Fiction


Young Adult

Each category winner receives $1000, with additional $2000 sponsored by HarperCollins Australia for the book of the year.


  1. I see there’s a miniseries of another Liane Moriarty book

    • Dearie me, I didn’t know there had been a first one… have I missed anything good? (Bear in mind that it took four seasons for me to catch up with Game of Thrones).

      • I meant another book other than the one you mentioned. It’s a HBO series: Big Little Lies

        • Is it worth watching? I like the occasional DVD series…
          (but only if there’s nothing to read, of course)

          • I don’t have HBO; it looks entertaining so when it’s sold to Amazon I’ll watch it for free. I’m still waiting for a French Village 6

            • You know it’s the last one? It says (somewhere) that there were 7 seasons, but apparently seasons 1 & 2 were short so they put them together and released them as season 1. So *sniffle* Season 6 will be the last.

              • Have you seen the trailer, Lisa?

                • No, but I wouldn’t. I don’t watch commercial TV or visit the kind of internet sites that advertise films or TV shows.

                • Oh my goodness… Oh I can’t wait now!

                • Looks good, doesn’t it?

  2. You made me laugh when you suggested that the award should be re-named “The Bestsellers Award.” Having worked on a small award committee in the past I was sometimes discouraged. It just takes a few quirky votes to split the top two choices so that the third choice will actually win. Well, no end of fun in libraryland and bookworld. I recently told a friend that I would be happily accept a position on the judging panel for the Nobel Prize in Literature for the coming year! Hehe.

    I enjoy your posts. I don’t know how you manage to read/audiobook so many titles and blog about them as well. Remarkable.

    • Thanks *smile*
      I must admit that sometimes I look at the composition of award juries and can just imagine the squabbles. I know why I’ve never been asked, just the sight of a Women’s Weekly Sticker or the words ‘The International Bestseller’ on the front cover puts me off a book…

  3. I’m one up on you I’ve also read The Midnight Watch – on about a par with Sara de Vos, I’d say. Perhaps they are judged on number of sales. Jeanie Baker in the children’s list must be getting older. I wonder whether it’s a collage work like others I’ve seen of hers.


    • Well, yes, Sara de Vos, nice book, enjoyable, but edging out An Isolated Incident? Better than The Easy Way Out? More significant than Georgia Blain’s book? I don’t think so.

  4. Hi Lisa

    I’ve read The Midnight Watch, The Dry and The Good People. All good.

    Lurline x

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Lurline, good to hear from you:)
      Looks like I have some catch-up reading to do then?
      Lisa x

  5. I have read the fiction, no real stand out for me. From the non-fiction list I have only read Helen Garner’s. Everywhere I look, a fantastic read. I haven’t read the children or young adult books. From the debut fiction I have read The Dry which is good, and Goodwood which is okay. I think you maybe right in that it is the best sellers that make the lists.

    • I’m not going to say which one, but I have noticed a bit of a drift towards popular fiction in the book recommendations that one of my favourite booksellers advertises. It used to be that you could trust everything they suggested, but now they don’t seem to know the difference between literary fiction and general fiction. I suspect that the baton has passed on to someone younger who isn’t really very well read.
      Maybe our little niche is getting smaller!

  6. I have a couple of the debuts in my TBR stack but as far as fiction goes, read two (Good People and Sara) and actively DID NOT read a third (Moriarity). No offence to Moriarty intended (and I know she has a well-deserved and huge fan base) but really… Is this a literary award?

    • My sentiments exactly.

  7. How often has this happened Lisa? I’m equal to you! That is, I’ve only read one too, albeit a different one, the Garner of course. The one I want to read next, when I can wrest it from my daughter is The hate race.

    While they’ve chosen generally good books over the years, some that have gone on to win other awards, I don’t really see them as quite the same as judged panels. They are chosen by the booksellers, but I’m wondering if it’s by vote from the member sellers and if so that could run a gamut of interests. And as they are presumably going to promote the lists and winners in their stores they probably will have a bit of an eye on sales?

    But in the end we are rarely going to agree with every list and it’s good to see a bit of variety in the lists. It will be interesting to see what comes up in the next lists.

    • Just looked at the website again. A judging panel makes the final choice from books submitted by booksellers. Not sure how the longlists and shortlists are chosen but they come from those sent in by the sellers…

      • I wish there were more transparency about judging criteria…

    • I agree, I like to see variety in lists, but I don’t see the point of having what amounts to a bestsellers award.

      • I’m not sure that it’s exactly a bestsellers award – if it were there’d be very different books on there I’d say – but I agree with you that sales in the contributing independent stores seem to have a part in the origins of this list.

  8. Hi Lisa, I have tried to contact you personally, and not block up this conversation (sorry everyone). It is about a review you ‘hosted’ in 2010 for Jasper Jones. I just would like your opinion, if I may.
    My 15 yo has it as her set book this year. I am reading through it. He has an unusual and poetic writing style. He does raise (sadly still) pertinent issues. But it seems a book for older teens. The strong language, the detailed description of Laura and the prolonged graphic abuse of the young girl is very disturbing. The boy wishes he could get the torturing and murder of the girls out of his head. Many children reading that material will, in my opinion, think the same. I have done research online, and the main trend of the audience is towards YA, whom I always have thought of as at least 16.
    Our children are not ignorant of the wickedness of the real world, though we try not to rob them of their innocence too quickly or too young. But to spend a year dwelling on and revisiting and analysing these awful events seems macabre.
    Maybe you can, from your vast literary experience, give me some input.
    Thank you for your time,

    • Hello Alisan, this is a very difficult question indeed. As a primary school teacher librarian I was only too well aware that children mature at very different rates, and that some are much more sensitive than others. This makes choosing books that they’re all required to read a difficult task indeed. At your daughter’s age I was reading Pride and Prejudice and Georgette Heyer and did not come across the issues-based YA novels that seem to be everyday fare for young people today.
      However, what can mitigate the depressing aspects of stories like this, is the skill of a wise teacher, and my advice would be to have a chat with your daughter’s teacher about it. Not with the expectation that the book will be taken off the curriculum because that is just not going to happen now the decision’s been made and the lessons prepared. What you want is to know how the book will be taught to address your concerns, that is, how is the teacher going to tackle the violent aspects of the book, and what will it be balanced with, so that the students don’t come away from their reading year with their heads full of evil and a sense that the world is a depressing place. I can tell from the way you are reading the book beforehand that you’ll be discussing the book with your daughter, and that is what I would be asking the teacher’s advice about. If she has taught this book before, she will know the aspects that trouble students and she should be able to give you guidance about that. The good relationship you nurture with your daughter is her best defence against dwelling on the world’s miseries: that boy in the novel can’t get that extreme situation out of his head because he doesn’t have a caring adult to help him.
      The other thing that you can do, which is a good thing to do anyway regardless of the books your daughter might read, is to balance your daughter’s school life with other enjoyable things, activities that cater to the adulthood that is beckoning. My son’s school advised us to do things together as a family such as social tennis or other sport, bushwalking, surf-lifesaving, cultural activities like going to see concerts and shows and so on. (We did things that were mostly free, so that we could do them often). Because what you are really asking about is how best to develop her resilience in dealing with the distressing things that come along in our lives, so that we don’t lie in bed at night unable to get them out of our heads. A good school will have resilience training as part of its program (often as part of its DrugEd or Wellbeing program) and a chat with the year level coordinator will probably reassure you, but if necessary, ask to see their Wellbeing policy. You could have a look at this website to learn more about it and what role parents play:
      Good luck!

      • Wonderful answer Lisa, that encompasses the parent, teacher and student point of view.

        • Thank you, that means a lot:)

  9. Thank you so much for your sensible advice. I home schooled my children for a number of years and was able to guide their reading and discuss a variety of books: classics such as Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cry the Beloved Country, Tom Sawyer etc as well as more modern ones (but not ones with gratuitous violence and strong swearing as they get enough of that in real life).
    My daughter, too, is very involved in music and horse riding, so gets out and about socially with her peers, as well as family activities such as camping and bush walking. I had not consciously thought of them as being beneficial in the way you point out. So, thank you again. I shall make an appointment to speak to her teacher once school starts.
    Thanks very much again!

    • You’re welcome:)

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