Winners of the Indie Book Awards 2019

The winners of the Indie Book Awards 2019 have been announced.

Each year, independent booksellers from around Australia get together and vote for their favourite titles in six different categories, as well as their favourite book overall. Here are the winners for each category, along with comments from our booksellers.


The Fiction winner is…
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay is a heartfelt saga about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current. It follows the Dunbar boys, a group of brothers who bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world. But it’s quiet brother Clay who sets out to build something a beautiful – a bridge made of local materials. He’s looking for a miracle and nothing less.

‘There is not a glance out of place, every move is loaded and linked, and every gasp of understanding reveals a little more about a family torn apart by tragedy and brought together again by determination.’ – Chris Gordon, events and programming manager


The Non-Fiction winner is…
The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper

After Black Saturday, a February 2009 day marked by 47 degree heat and firestorms, arson squad detectives arrived at a plantation on the edge of a 26,000-hectare burn site. The Arsonist takes readers inside the hunt for a fire-lighter. It is at once a remarkable detective story, as the police close in on the offender; and a puzzling psychological story, as defence lawyers seek to understand the motives of a man who, they claimed, was a naïf that had accidentally dropped a cigarette. As she did in The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper takes us to a part of the country seldom explored, and reveals something buried but essential in our national psyche.

The Arsonist is one of the books of the year. Absolutely not to be missed.’ – Alison Huber, head book buyer


The Debut Fiction winner and Book of the Year is…
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. Eli Bell is just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But if Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. A story of brotherhood, first love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating.

Boy Swallows Universe moved me deeply, in the same way Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time did … Dalton has poured his soul into this book.’ – Chris Gordon, events and programming manager


The Illustrated Non-Fiction winner is…
Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton

In this curated guidebook to Indigenous Australia and the Torrest Straight Islands, author and professor Marcia Langton offers fascinating insights into Indigenous languages and customs, history, native title, art and dance, storytelling, and cultural awareness and etiquette for visitors. Featuring a directory of Indigenous tourism experiences, organised by state or territory, Welcome to Country is essential for anyone – tourist or local – who wants to learn more about the dynamic and diverse culture that has thrived here for over 50,000 years.

‘Langton has produced the perfect book for people who want to know more about our rich Indigenous history.’ – Mark Rubbo, managing director


The Children’s winner and the overall Indie Book of the Year winner is…
Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

The highlight of Lenny and her brother Davey’s week is the latest instalment of Burrell’s Encyclopaedia, from which they learn about the world outside their small-town existence. But sweet Davey just keeps on growing and growing and nothing can be done. Brilliant and utterly compelling, this big-hearted novel about loving and letting-go is a magical and tear-jerking read.

Lenny’s Book of Everything is a wonderful read for kids 10+, but it’s not just for kids; this is a book I know I will see being read by teary-eyed, sniffling adults on the bus to work.’ – Dani Solomon, assistant manager, Readings Kids


The Young Adult winner is…
A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg

Rob Fitzgerald is thirteen years old and determined to impress the new girl at school, but it’s a difficult task for a super-shy kid who is prone to panic attacks. Luckily Rob starts receiving mysterious text messages urging him to complete tasks that boost his confidence and lead him on a journey of self discovery. A Song Only I Can Hear is a delightful novel about dreaming big, being brave and marching to the beat of your own drum.

‘Rob Fitzgerald is a fascinating character who you can’t help but empathise with.’ – Angela Crocombe, manager, Readings Kids

You can read more about Indie Book Awards here.

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Boy Swallows Universe

Boy Swallows Universe

Trent Dalton

$19.99Buy now

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