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Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver named Hay Festival Book of The Year 2023

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2023 after hundreds of book lovers nominated their favourite titles of the year online.

An epic tale of love, loss, and everything in between, Demon Copperhead follows the story of Demon, a young boy born to a teenage mother in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis. A reimagining of Dickens’ David Copperfield, the novel charts Demon’s journey to adulthood and efforts to transcend the challenges around him.

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Demon Copperhead is the ninth novel from Barbara Kingsolver, the global prize-winning and bestselling author whose other works include Unsheltered, Flight Behaviour, The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, as well as books of poetry, essays and creative non-fiction. She has been translated into more than 30 languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. 

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “At the end of every year, we ask our Hay Festival audience which books they couldn’t put down. The resulting nominations are a varied and engaging snapshot of the year’s most impactful fiction, non-fiction and poetry. A bestseller at our spring event, Demon Copperhead was shared again and again by readers. We are delighted to celebrate it as our Book of the Year.”

Listen again to Kingsolver’s Hay Festival 2023 event on Demon Copperhead on Hay Player now here.

Past winners of the Hay Festival Book of the Year have been Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry (2022), Deborah Levy’s Real Estate (2021), Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist (2020), Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five (2019), Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s Inventing Ourselves (2018) and Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane’s The Lost Words (2017). 

The announcement comes on the eve of Hay Festival Winter Weekend, which is back for a year-end wonderland of in-person events, 23–26 November, in multiple venues across Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

Over four days, more than 70 acclaimed writers and performers take part in 60-plus events, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, offering creative solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time, and spreading festive joy in conversations, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and workshops.

Now in its 24th year, events will take place in a new 350-seater marquee in the grounds of Hay Castle, tripling the event’s previous capacity. Additional events will take place in the Castle’s Clore Learning Space, plus venues around town, including St Mary’s Church and The Poetry Bookshop. 

For audiences unable to attend in person, the Festival’s commitment to digital accessibility will also continue with selected sessions available to live-stream remotely with an Online Festival Pass. 

More intimate than the spring edition, Hay Festival Winter Weekend sees the Welsh booktown’s independent shops, cafés and attractions offer a warm welcome to Festivalgoers within the stunning surrounds of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park.

Hay Festival Winter Weekend has received funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Explore the full programme and book tickets now at