Australian independent booksellers are thrilled to announce The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Affirm Press) as their favourite book from last year, and the winner of The Indie Book Awards 2021 Book of the Year.
Bookseller judge Katherine Downey (from The Leaf Bookshop) commented on William’s novel: “Exceptionally satisfying. Williams transports us to nineteenth century England with confidence and panache and to the workings of the scriptorium with an attention to detail that reveals the depth of her research.”
“The fight for women’s rights informs this novel and the author’s ability to present an array of different female characters, of diverse backgrounds, ages and expectations leads to a rich and layered narrative that is superbly composed.”
Early this year* Affirm Press reported a bestselling milestone: The Dictionary of Lost Words had reached sales of over 100,000 copies across its two formats in the 41 weeks since publication in March 2020. The only Australian fiction title to reach this milestone in fewer than 41 weeks is The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo) at 37 weeks, while Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate) took 48 weeks.
“I am overjoyed that The Dictionary of Lost Words is the winner of the Indie Book Awards 2021 Book of the Year, and I’d like to say why,” said Pip Williams, on winning the Award. “The Dictionary of Lost Words was published just days into Australia’s first pandemic lockdown.”
“The timing was awful for a debut novel and I lowered all expectations that my book would find its tribe of readers. But then something wonderful happened – independent booksellers refused to shut up shop.”
“While their doors might have been closed, they found myriad ways to get books into the hands of people who would enjoy them, perhaps even need them, during the long weeks of isolation. As a reader and a writer, I was enormously grateful.”
Australian independent booksellers helped my novel thrive at a time when it seemed least likely. If I were in the business of giving out awards for outstanding achievement in 2020, independent booksellers would be at the top of the list. For this reason, it is a particularly special honour that The Dictionary of Lost Words has been chosen as the 2021 Indie Book of the Year.”
The Awards recognise and celebrate indie booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors. What makes our Indies uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year to their customers and readers, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of the Australian reading public by recommending books beyond the big brands, and their love of quality writing.
The individual category winners in Fiction, Debut Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustrated Non-Fiction, Children’s and Young Adult were also announced. From these six category winners, the independent booksellers selected the best of the best – The 2021 Indie Book of the Year.
The Category Winners of the 2021 Indie Book Awards:
OVERALL WINNER: BOOK OF THE YEAR:
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)
Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (Fourth Estate Australia)
The Dictionary of Lost Wordsby Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
Plantopedia by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan (Smith Street Books)
The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press)
This One is Ours by Kate O’Donnell (University of Queensland Press)
The Indies are considered the forerunners of all major Australian book awards. Since the Awards inception in 2008, the Indies have a well-deserved reputation for picking the best of the best in Australian writing. Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards.
Previous winners include: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton; Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend; The Dry by Jane Harper; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; The Bush by Don Watson; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; All That I Am by Anna Funder; The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and Breath by Tim Winton.
For more information on the Indie Book Awards, visit: www.indiebookawards.com.au for details.
Image: Pip Williams and her book, The Dictionary of Lost Words – courtesy of Affirm Press
Note: *Books + Publishing, 18 January 2021