Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 5, 2019

2020 Indie Book Awards Longlist

The longlist for the Indie Book Awards was announced today:


  • The White Girl by Tony Birch (University of Queensland Press), see my review
  • The Rip by Mark Brandi (Hachette Australia)
  • Silver by Chris Hammer (Allen and Unwin)
  • There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett (Hachette Australia), on my TBR
  • Maybe the Horse Will Talk by Elliot Perlman (Vintage Australia), see my review
  • Bruny by Heather Rose (Allen and Unwin), see my review
  • Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas (Allen and Unwin)
  • The Wife and the Widow by Christian White (Affirm Press)
  • The Yield by Tara June Winch (Hamish Hamilton Australia), see my review
  • The Weekend by Charlotte Wood (Allen and Unwin), on my TBR.


  • Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga by Todd Alexander (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch (Allen and Unwin)
  • Against All Odds by Craig Challen & Richard Harris (Viking Australia)
  • Banking Bad by Adele Ferguson (ABC Books, HarperCollins Australia)
  • 488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct by Kitty Flanagan (Allen and Unwin)
  • Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume 1 1978–1987 by Helen Garner (Text Publishing)
  • See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill (Black Inc.)
  • Tell Me Why by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Back on Track by Bernie Shakeshaft with James Knight (Hachette Australia)
  • Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta (Text Publishing), (currently reading this).


  • A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop (Text Publishing)
  • Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden (Macmillan Australia)
  • Allegra in Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel (Macmillan Australia)
  • Hitch by Kathryn Hind (Hamish Hamilton Australia)
  • Act of Grace by Anna Krien (Black Inc.), see my review
  • Crossings by Alex Landragin (Picador Australia)
  • Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern (Allen and Unwin)
  • The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean (Fourth Estate Australia)
  • Heart of the Grass Tree by Molly Murn (Vintage Australia)
  • Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee (HarperCollins Australia)


  • The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes (Affirm Press)
  • The Leaf Supply Guide to Creating Your Indoor Jungle by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan (Smith Street Books)
  • Australia Modern by Philip Goad & Hannah Lewi (Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant Books)
  • The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant Books)
  • Ben Quilty by Ben Quilty (Lantern Australia)
  • Australian Designers at Home by Jenny Rose-Innes (Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Sydney Art Deco by Peter Sheridan (Peter Sheridan)
  • Warndu Mai (Good Food) by Rebecca Sullivan & Damien Coulthard (Hachette Australia)
  • In an Australian Light edited by Jo Turner (Thames & Hudson Australia)


  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals by Sami Bayly (Lothian Children’s Books)
  • Into the Wild: Wolf Girl, Book 1 by Anh Do, illustrated by Jeremy Ley (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
  • Tilly by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker (Scholastic Press)
  • The Tiny Star by Mem Fox & Freya Blackwood (Puffin Australia)
  • How to Make a Movie in 12 Days by Fiona Hardy (Affirm Press)
  • Mr Chicken All Over Australia by Leigh Hobbs (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
  • The Painted Ponies by Alison Lester (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
  • Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)
  • A Trip to the Beach by Gwyn Perkins (Affirm Press)
  • The Glimme by Emily Rodda, illustrated by Marc McBride (Omnibus Books)


  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
  • How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (Pan Australia)
  • Aurora Rising: The Aurora Cycle 1 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
  • It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood (Text Publishing)
  • Monuments by Will Kostakis (Lothian Children’s Books)
  • Weapon by Lynette Noni (Pantera Press)
  • Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard (Fremantle Press)
  • Land of Fences by Mark Smith (Text Publishing)
  • This Is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
  • I Am Change by Suzy Zail (Walker Books Australia)

Making a big claim for the significance of these awards, their website says that they are the most democratic because

it’s the Australian independent booksellers themselves who nominate their best titles for the year; select the Longlist; judge the Shortlist and vote for the Category and Book of the Year winners. […] Announced early in the award calendar year, The Indie Book Awards are now considered the forerunners of all major Australian book awards.

Well, I hope not.  I’m not disputing the merits of the books: those I’ve read are good reading, and I’m pleased to see two Indigenous authors on the Fiction list and two more on the Non Fiction list.  But I also see what’s not included in those lists.  Certainly as far as the Fiction list is concerned, nearly all the books are published by the big publishers, who have the biggest publicity and marketing machines, and the authors are all well-established authors who can guarantee sales.  These titles will be popular, and good luck to them too, I want more Australian authors to be successful like that as well. But, IMHO, most of the best, most innovative, most thought-provoking Australian fiction which will still be read in the years ahead, comes from independent publishing, which is prepared to take risks.  But they are mostly not represented in these lists.  Flick through the 66 Australian books published in 2019 that I’ve reviewed (so far this year), and you can see why I’m not disposed to acquiesce in the Indie longlists as indicative of the 2020 award season.  It has been good to see that the Miles Franklin has broadened its horizons to include more nominations from small and indie publishers. I’d like other awards to do that too.

So, congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers, but I hope that there will also be plenty of other names turning up in the longlists for other awards.


  1. I’ve read quite a few of these! That doesn’t happen too often…


    • Yes… funny how we are pleased when one of ‘our’ books gets up, but we also want some new ones we haven’t read!

      Liked by 1 person

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