Candice Carty-Williams has become the first Black British woman to win the coveted Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.
The British Book Awards have named Candice’s debut novel, Queenie, their Book of the Year 2020.
Queenie, which was published in November 2019, has become a bestselling novel, after receiving a wave of critical acclaim.
The novel is about Queenie Jenkins, a 25-year-old woman living in London and struggling with her Jamaican British identity.
She straddles two cultures, fitting into neither, and constantly compares herself to her white coworkers at a national newspaper.
On top of this, she’s dealing with a messy breakup from her long-term boyfriend, seeking comfort from all the wrong places.
Speaking about her win, Carty-Williams said, “I don’t quite know how I feel about winning Book of the Year; I’m proud of myself, yes, and grateful to the incredible team that helped me get Queenie out of my head and on to the shelves.
“I’m also sad and confused that I’m the first black AND female author to have won this award since it began.
“This win makes me hopeful that although I’m the first, the industry are waking up to the fact that I shouldn’t and won’t be the last.”
In a tweet, she added, ‘BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 👑 And the FIRST Black AUTHOR to win it let alone Black WOMAN since the prize BEGAN in 1994? Sorry for all the caps but what are you telling meee’
British Book Awards judge Stig Abell described it a “novel of our time”, saying, “It’s filled with wit, wisdom and urgency; and unafraid to tackle life as it is being experienced by a young, single black woman in the city.”
He added, “This shouldn’t be filed away as simply a funny debut by a brilliant writer (though it is that); this is an important meditation on friendship, love and race.”
Sadly due to coronavirus, the British Book Awards were held virtually instead of having a real-life ceremony this year.
Girl, Woman, Other writer, Bernardine Evaristo, won The British Book Awards Author of the Year prize, after jointly winning the Booker Prize last year in a historic decision.
Meanwhile, Black author Oyinkan Braithwaite won Crime and Thriller Book of the Year for My Sister, the Serial Killer.