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Novel which explores representation in publishing among Indie Book Award winners

The Indie Book Awards celebrate the best paperback books to read during the summer.

A satirical novel which explores representation, cultural appropriation and the publishing industry is among the winners at the Indie Book Awards 2024.

Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, which follows an author who steals her rival’s final manuscript after she dies in a freak accident, picked up the prize in the adult fiction category.

Katherine Rundell won the non-fiction prize for her book The Golden Mole: And Other Vanishing Treasure while author Hiba Noor Khan and West End star Robert Tregoning were awarded in the children’s fiction and picture book categories.

The front cover of Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, which is in the design of a yellow face
Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang (Indie Book Awards/PA)

Following her win, Kuang said: “What an honour to have won this award. Indie booksellers are the backbones of this industry, the ones getting books into readers’ hands, and I am eternally grateful for your support.

“It means a lot to me that Yellowface, which is so critical about the way we select and talk about books, has received such a warm welcome.

“I take this to indicate that we are all frustrated with a publishing ecosystem that commodifies identity, that limits representation to one or two exhausting examples, that tells marginalised authors the only thing interesting about them is their pain.

“So, let’s cheers to the readers and booksellers and book lovers who are chasing stories not to confirm our own presumptions, but because we care about what someone not like us has to say.”

The novel has already won a number of prizes including the British Book Awards and Foyle’s fiction book of the year gongs.

The front cover of The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell, which is in a design which features a number of animals
The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell (Indie Book Awards/PA)

Rundell, whose book takes the reader on a tour of the world’s strangest and most awe-inspiring animals, said winning the award was an “enormous delight”.

“I owe so much of my career to the championing of independent bookshops: to the generosity, imagination and passion of indie booksellers,” she added.

“Indie bookshops are, by far, my favourite kind of shop: a place where you can go in looking for an idea, or a solution, or even a mood, and be met with the knowledge and nuance of booksellers, and the perfect book. This is a real honour: thank you.”

Safiyyah’s War by Khan, which follows a girl engaged in dangerous resistance work after her father is arrested by the Nazis in occupied Paris, was selected as the winner of the children’s fiction prize.

The front cover of Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan, which is in the design of two women running along a building roof against a Paris landscape
Safiyyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan (Indie Book Awards/PA)

Khan hailed it as a “special award” as she feels independent bookshops are “treasures” for both authors and the wider community.

“To have been voted as the winner by indie booksellers is just the most immense honour, one that I will cherish for the rest of my life”, she added.

“I am so grateful to each and every one of you who recognised Safiyyah along with all that she represents.”

The Dress In The Window written by Tregoning and illustrated by Pippa Curnick won the picture book gong.

It is an uplifting story of self-love, acceptance and embracing your true self, told in rhyme.

The front cover of The Dress in the Window by Robert Tregoning, illustrated by Pippa Curnick, which is in the design of a boy and a dog looking at a red dress in a shop window
The Dress in the Window by Robert Tregoning, illustrated by Pippa Curnick (Indie Book Awards/PA)

Robert Tregoning said: “My heart is certainly disco dancing and I’m filled with pride.

“The Dress in the Window is a story based on childhood memories of my husband’s and of my own, and it means the absolute world that this joyous tale of boy meets dress is resonating with readers.”

The Indie Book Awards celebrate the best paperback books to read during the summer and the winners are chosen by a panel of judges made up of booksellers from around the country.

The awards are part of Independent Bookshop Week, the annual campaign celebrating indie bookshops in the UK and Ireland, organised by the Booksellers Association.

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