The Southern Book Prize

The Southern Book Prize

Announcing the 2023 Southern Book Prize Winners
#southernbookprize #SBP23


(Asheville, NC) As a "valentine" to people who love Southern Literature, Southern indie booksellers and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Southern Book Prize (SBP).

This year’s winners are Lark Ascending by Silas House (Algonquin Books) in Fiction, Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott (Atria) in Nonfiction, and Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady and Gracey Zhang (illus.) (Katherine Tegen Books) in Children’s. Winners receive a donation in their name to the charity or nonprofit of their choice.

Lark AscendingBomb ShelterNigel and the Moon

The Prize, representing Southern bookseller favorites from 2023, is awarded to “the best Southern book of the year” as nominated by Southern indie booksellers and voted on by their customers. Winners were chosen by popular vote from a ballot of finalists in fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. Over 1800 ballots were cast making each Southern Book Prize winner a true Southern reader favorite.  Readers who submit a ballot can choose to be entered into a raffle to win a collection of the SBP finalist and winning titles. This year’s raffle winner is Donna Bausch, a customer of Prince Books in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Authors:

Silas House“This award is particularly special to me because it comes from Southern indie booksellers and readers–the two main groups that have given me a writing career for more than twenty years now,” said Silas House. “I cannot thank them enough for everything. To me Lark Ascending is a warning about what is already happening but it’s also a meditation on the way hope survives, and how we must always fight back. For those reasons I am especially grateful for it to receive the increased visibility this recognition will provide.” House requested that his donation go to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “as a tribute to Seamus, the good beagle in Lark Ascending who has found a place in the heart of many readers.”

Mary Laura Philpott, photo credit Heidi RossMary Laura Philpott said “Oh, wow! What could mean more to a writer than an award granted by readers and booksellers, the people who know and love books more than anyone? I couldn’t do this work if I didn’t believe that when my books leave my head, they land in the hands and hearts of such thoughtful human beings. It’s an honor to play a tiny part in the grand and ever-evolving Southern literary tradition―not to mention to be in the company of this year’s brilliant fellow nominees. Thank you so much.” Philpott chose to have her donation go to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Gracey Zhang, phot credit Gracey ZhangAntwan Eady, photo credit Antwan Eady“Thank you all for receiving Nigel into your hearts and homes, and may dreamers of all ages feel seen, heard, and loved," wrote Antwan Eady. "Nigel, as we know him today, would not exist without the incredible, hardworking team from Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins Children’s Books, the über talented Gracey Zhang, and the people who’ve championed us along the way: our agents, families and friends. We’ve given Nigel a story, but all of you have given him a life.”  Eady has asked for his donation to go to Readers to Dreamers, while Gracey Zhang has requested hers be given to AKUT, an NGO currently doing search and rescue in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.

What Southern Booksellers Have to Say About the Winning Books:

2023 SBP Children’s Winner:
Nigel and the Moon, by Antwan Eady and Gracey Zhang (Illus.)
Katherine Tegen Books, February 2022

“Nigel and the Moon will make your heart swell in the best way! Sure to be a beloved book, Nigel’s story resonates deeply with those who are scared to share their dreams.” ―Lauren Kean from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

2023 SBP Fiction Winner:
Lark Ascending
by Silas House
Algonquin Books, September 2022

The urgency of the opening chapters is breathtaking, and then the source of it is laid bare: this is the imagined not-so-distant future resulting from the chaos and painful transformational change similar to what we’re going through right now in our world. A haunting story, one that makes you really think about the trajectory of our collective lives.” ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

2023 SBP Nonfiction Winner:
Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott
Atria, April 2022

It’s more tempting than ever to want to build a bomb shelter and retreat from the upheavals of life. But with this memoir, Mary Laura Philpott convinces us that, like Frank the turtle, we have to poke our heads out from time to time, confront the challenges, and keep going.” ―Lady Smith, Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

An indie bookseller-curated, reader-chosen award, The Southern Book Prize showcases books that have been favorite “hand sell” titles of southern booksellers and establishes indie booksellers as a knowledgeable, trustworthy source for avid readers looking for their next great read.  Raffle winner Donna Bausch, calls her local bookstore, Prince Books, “a carefully curated bookshop located in a beautiful historic building…an increasingly rare treasure in the 21st century. The joyful serendipity of finding a ‘must read’ you didn’t even know about while browsing the shelves, attending interesting author talks and enjoying a cup of tea or a quick bite at the cafe all make a visit to Prince Books special. All that and warm, well-informed staff and free gift wrap, too! Prince Books is a Norfolk landmark for good reason.

The Southern Book Prize, formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, has been awarded annually since 1999. SIBA launched the public ballot in 2019 to encourage stores to engage their customers in the important question of what books deserve to be called “the best Southern book of the year.”  For more information, visit the Southern Book Prize home at The Southern Bookseller Review.

The Finalists


The Southern Book Prize, formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, has been awarded annually since 1999.  SIBA launched the public ballot in 2019 to encourage stores to engage their customers in the important question of what books deserve to be called “the best Southern book of the year.”

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