British-Nigerian author, Bernardine Evaristo, has emerged author of the year at the British Book Awards, becoming the first black writer to win the category.
The author, who is the joint winner of last year’s Booker Prize for her polyphonic novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, also won the fiction category ahead of fellow Booker winner and renowned Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.
Evaristo also became the first black British woman to top the fiction paperback charts last month, an experience she described as “quite surreal”.
“I was already adjusting to seeing my name on the bestseller list for 20 weeks, off and on, but then to hit the top spot and then to realise that I was the first woman of colour to get there since records began, well, it’s a lot to take in.
“I’ve been writing for a very long time, and it’s incredibly gratifying to know that my work is finally reaching a wider readership. It’s also fantastic to see so many other books by writers of colour storming the charts. I’m pretty sure this is unprecedented. Of course, this has been triggered by the tragedy of George Floyd’s death and we should always remember that,” she told the Guardian UK.
A signatory to an open letter from the newly formed Black Writers’ Guild which is calling for sweeping change in British publishing, the novelist hoped that “they don’t revert back to the status quo once the heat has left the conversation around racism, as will inevitably be the case.”
In the same vein, Nigerian author, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, ‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ won crime and thriller book of the year, becoming the first black her author to win in that category, too. The book had won her the Anthony Award for best first novel.
Produced by UK’s book trade magazine the Bookseller, this year’s edition of the British Book awards, also known as the Nibbies, held entirely online for the first time due to the coronavirus scourge.