Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 15, 2020

2020 Indie Book Awards shortlists

These are the shortlists for the 2020 Indie Book Awards for the best Australian books published in 2019.


  • There Was Still Love (Favel Parrett, Hachette)
  • Bruny (Heather Rose, A&U)
  • The Wife and the Widow (Christian White, Affirm)
  • The Weekend (Charlotte Wood, A&U)

Hmm.  Let’s take another look at the longlist, announced in December:



  • Your Own Kind of Girl (Clare Bowditch, A&U), see Theresa’s review at Theresa Smith Writes
  • 488 Rules for Life: The thankless art of being correct (Kitty Flanagan, A&U)
  • Tell Me Why (Archie Roach, S&S)
  • Sand Talk: How Indigenous thinking can save the world (Tyson Yunkaporta, Text)

I went to the session about Sand talk at the Non Fiction festival in Geelong and started the book when I got home, but it lost me in the Introduction.  I might have another go at it during 2020 Indigenous Literature Week, or I might not, depending on my tolerance for rambling at the time. I haven’t read any of the others, and don’t want to.

Debut fiction

  • Wearing Paper Dresses (Anne Brinsden, Macmillan)
  • Allegra in Three Parts (Suzanne Daniel, Macmillan), see Theresa’s review at Theresa Smith Writes
  • The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone (Felicity McLean, Fourth Estate)
  • Heart of the Grass Tree (Molly Murn, Vintage)

Illustrated nonfiction

  • The Lost Boys (Paul Byrnes, Affirm)
  • Finding the Heart of the Nation (Thomas Mayor, Hardie Grant)
  • The Whole Fish Cookbook (Josh Niland, Hardie Grant)
  • In an Australian Light (ed by Jo Turner, Thames & Hudson)

Young adult

  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling (Wai Chim, A&U)
  • Aurora Rising: The Aurora Cycle 1 (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, A&U)
  • It Sounded Better in My Head (Nina Kenwood, Text)
  • Monuments (Will Kostakis, Lothian)


  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals (Sami Bayly, Lothian)
  • Into the Wild: Wolf Girl Book 1 (Anh Do, illus by Jeremy Ley, A&U)
  • The Tiny Star (Mem Fox, illus by Freya Blackwood, Puffin)
  • Young Dark Emu: A truer history (Bruce Pascoe, Magabala).  Update: I’ve read the adult version of this and am pleased to see a junior edition of it.

The winners will be announced on 23 March at the 2020 Leading Edge Books conference in Brisbane.  For more information about the awards, visit the website.



  1. I don’t have any opinions about who should win (I wasn’t a fan of either Bruny or The Weekend) but I bought Aurora Rising for Ms YA and I’d like to look at the Pascoe and the Anh Do for her young sister (all right, I don’t remember her age. I guess she’ll turn either 8 or 9).


  2. I’m going to pick up the Favel Parret and Perlman book. Both sound interesting.


  3. Hmmm… the fiction shortlist doesn’t fill me with great excitement. I liked The Weekend but didn’t think much of Bruny…


  4. I’ve read a few on this list. The Weekend, There Was Still Love, Your Own Kind Of Girl (which I’m thrilled to see on the shortlist), Allegra in Three Parts. All good reads!


  5. […] Short Stories from the top menu). Her first novel, Wearing Paper Dresses was shortlisted for the 2020 Indie Book Awards for Debut Fiction.  Now that I’ve read it, I know […]


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