Independent Booksellers' Prize 2009

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The 2009 Independent Booksellers' Prize shortlist allowed for voting in independent bookshops around the UK. It was a strong shortlist, with a richly-deserved winner. Here's what Bookbag thought of them. Why not tell us about your favourites too? (Although we've got links to Amazon as with all our lists, we really would rather you went out and supported your local bookshop instead of buying online this time! Tell them Bookbag sent you!)

The Winner


Review of

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

Barry's latest Booker-shortlisted, Costa-nominated novel explores the human impact of Ireland's troubled 20th century history. A very, very good book indeed, beautifully written from start to finish. It is, however, let down by a surprisingly poor ending - but is a recommended read nevertheless. Full Review

The Shortlist


Review of

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

4star.jpg Crime

Leo is a hero after World War 2 and a successful agent in the MGB; a man unquestioningly loyal to his mother Russia, despite having to do questionable duties, until he discovers a mistake in the system and is powerless to do anything. A flawed but engaging detective thriller, which will almost certainly make a great movie. Full Review

Shaffer Guernsey.jpg

Review of

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

5star.jpg General Fiction

An entertaining and moving study of love, friendship and literature against the backdrop of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. Full Review


Review of

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

3.5star.jpg Popular Science

A look by Oliver Sacks, physician and neurologist, at the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians and everyday people, largely through a series of individual case histories. Full Review


Review of

Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill

3star.jpg Autobiography

A memoir of the writer and former book reviewer, reflecting on approaching death as well as random thoughts, episodes, likes and dislikes from her ninety years. Full Review


Review of

Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson Wright

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

Not just reminiscences about Two Fat Ladies but a story of a life not always lived wisely but always lived to the full. Highly recommended. Full Review


Review of

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

On the night of 29th June 1860 a three year old boy, Saville Kent, had his throat slashed and his body stuffed into a privy in the grounds of Road Hill House, Wiltshire. True crime told as a gripping story. Highly recommended. Full Review


Review of

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

3star.jpg General Fiction

Purple prose over vivid description, soap opera over genuine emotional depth. Bookbag didn't enjoy this any more than it enjoyed its predecessor, The Kite Runner. Its weighty setting belies what is in actuality, a pleasant but incredibly light and schmaltzy plot-driven read. Full Review


Review of

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Funny, literary, sharp as a knife, and moving in a dark direction from the horrifying first few pages, this is a deeply gratifying read. Full Review


Review of

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

The 2008 Booker Prize-winner constrasts India's growing economy with its rural poverty. Full Review

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