Candice Carty-Williams’s brilliant debut novel, Queenie, has won the book of the year award at The British Book Awards, making Carty-Williams the first Black person to take home this particular award since its inception in 1990. “BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 👑”, she wrote on Twitter following the announcement. “And the FIRST Black AUTHOR to win it let alone Black WOMAN since the prize BEGAN in 1994 (sic)? Sorry for all the caps but what are you telling meee #Nibbies.”
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 #Nibbies pic.twitter.com/QqUGvfvgxP
– Candice Carty-Williams (@CandiceC_W) June 29, 2020
Queenie won in the categories Fiction: Debut Book of the Year and Overall Book of The Year, beating out authors Lisa Taddeo, Oyinkan Braithwaite, and Margaret Atwood. Queenie tells the story of a British Jamaican woman navigating her 20s in London, while juggling her job in publishing and friendships, all while being on a break from her long-term boyfriend, Tom. The judges said “it was clear that Candice Carty-Williams’ first novel has established her as a brand name that readers will return to again and again.” They also noted that the passion from the publisher and author while promoting the book “tirelessly”, including Trapeze’s grassroots campaign, and five different covers, turned the publication into “a cultural event in every way”.
“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,” said Carty-Williams when reacting to the win on Monday. “I’m also sad and confused that I’m the first black AND female author to have won this award since it began. Overall, 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.”
Carty-Williams is joined on the list of winners by Girl, Woman, Other author Bernardine Evaristo, who won Author of the Year and Fiction Book of the Year, My Sister, the Serial Killer author Oyinkan Braithwaite, who won the award for Fiction: Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, and The Testament author, Margaret Atwood, for Best Audiobook of the Year. You can view the full list of winners at The Bookseller website.