We’re thrilled to bits that Pip Williams’s debut novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, has been named overall Book of the Year by Australia’s independent booksellers, in a virtual ceremony for the 2021 Indie Book Awards on Monday night. The Dictionary of Lost Words was also awarded the prize for Debut Fiction. Bravo Pip!

Three cheers also for debut author Amelia Mellor, who took home the Indie Book Award in the Children’s category for her bestselling middle-grade fantasy The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Affirm Press congratulates all the finalists and winners, especially our very own Jane Godwin and Alison Lester whose marvellous picture book Sing Me the Summer was also shortlisted in the Children’s category.

Pip Williams said: ‘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.

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.’

Amelia Mellor said: ‘How glorious it is that even after a hundred and fifty years, indie books, publishers and booksellers are still thriving in Australia. Thank you, indie booksellers, for championing The Grandest Bookshop in the World and keeping the spirit of Cole’s Book Arcade alive!’

Affirm Press Publisher, Martin Hughes, said:

The Dictionary of Lost Words and The Grandest Bookshop in the World are debut novels that both celebrate the joy of books, words and reading. Pip’s and Amelia’s books brought so much comfort to so many during 2020, and it’s is especially pleasing that they warmed the cockles of independent booksellers, the heart of Australian publishing, during such a difficult year.’

Watch the 2021 Indie Book Awards virtual awards ceremony here.