Osman, Reid, and Zephaniah shortlisted for Indie Book Awards

Osman, Reid, and Zephaniah shortlisted for Indie Book Awards

Richard Osman, Kiley Reid and Benjamin Zephaniah are among the writers shortlisted for this year's Indie Book Awards, the annual prize curated by booksellers as part of Independent Bookshop Week.

The awards honour the paperback books of the year across four categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Picture Book – as voted for by independent booksellers, and are part of the campaign celebrating indie bookshops, organised by the Booksellers Association (BA).

Osman has been nominated for his debut crime novel, The Thursday Murder Club (Viking), while 2020 Booker Prize-longlisted author Reid is up for Such A Fun Age (Bloomsbury), a novel that follows Emira, a young Black woman accused of kidnapping the child she babysits. Writer and poet Zephaniah has been shortlisted for his novel, Windrush Child (Scholastic), which centres on Leonard, a child of the Windrush generation who grows up experiencing racism as he tries to build a new life in London.

Other nominees include Booker Prize-winner Douglas Stuart for Shuggie Bain (Picador) and, in the Non-Fiction category, Lemn Sissay for his memoir My Name is Why (Canongate). Carnegie award-winner Meg Rosoff is in the running for the Children's Fiction category with The Great Godden (Bloomsbury), while Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls, illustrated by David Litchfield (Walker Books) is shortlisted in Picture Books. 

A judging panel of independent booksellers and authors will decide on the four winners, to be announced at 10 a.m. on 25th June, the penultimate day of Independent Bookshop Week. The winners will be announced on Scala Radio, the official media partner of the Indie Book Awards. During Independent Bookshop Week, which runs from 19th to 26th June, Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s will be hosting virtual events featuring some of the shortlisted authors.

Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the BA, said: "The Indie Book Awards celebrate the best titles of the year, as recommended by the expertise of independent booksellers. This year’s shortlist features an eclectic mix of books, from Sunday Times bestsellers, to Booker-nominated titles, to books that have kept us company throughout lockdown. As bookshops gradually reopen in the UK and Ireland, I can’t wait to go to my local indie and get my hands on this year’s shortlist – and I hope all book lovers will do the same!"

The judging panel for the Adult categories consists of booksellers including Tina Gaisford-Waller from Winstone’s Hunting Raven Books, Saber Khan of Toppings in Bath, Sam Fisher from Burley Fisher Books, Alice Carr of Blackwell’s in Edinburgh and Hachette author Will Dean.

The Children’s categories will be judged by Nicola Lee of the Children’s Bookshop in Lindley, Mariana Mouzinho at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, India Chambers from Round Table Books, Gill Edwards of Little Ripon Bookshop and Hachette author Patrice Lawrence.

Commenting on the shortlist, Zephaniah said: "When I say I owe a lot to independent bookshops, I mean it. My first book was not published by an established publisher, it was published by Page One Books, an independent bookshop in east London. When I couldn’t find venues to perform in, I performed above, or in, independent bookshops all over the country. Independent bookshops made me, and I don’t want to get too heavy, but in times like these I use them for their human connections, and as a political statement. Long love the book lovers."

The full Indie Book Awards 2021 shortlists:


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador)

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Viking)

Summerwater by Sarah Moss (Picador)

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud (Faber & Faber)


The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn (Michael Joseph)

My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay (Canongate)

The Stubborn Light of Things by Melissa Harrison (Faber & Faber)

Humankind by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier Spy by Ben Macintyre (Viking)

Hungry by Grace Dent (Mudlark)

Children's Fiction

Tamarind & the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan (Chicken House)

Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah (Scholastic)

The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q Rauf (Orion Children's)

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff (Bloomsbury)

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant (Faber Children’s)

Vi Spy: Licence to Chill by Maz Evans (Chicken House)

Picture Book

The Bear, the Piano & Little Bear's Concert by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love (Walker Books)

The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson & Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Dog Gone by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls, illustrated by David Litchfield (Walker Books)

The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes & Sarah Massini (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)