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Candice Carty-Williams named first black woman to win top book prize

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Candice Carty-Williams has become the first black woman to win the book of the year prize at the British Book Awards.

Her debut novel Queenie saw off competition including My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women.

The winners of the awards were announced on Monday in an online ceremony.

In her acceptance speech, Carty-Williams said she was “proud”, but added she “would like to be prouder of the publishing industry”.

“I don’t doubt that there are books by black women who have come before me who are also deserving of that prize but maybe whose voices weren’t seen or heard,” she said.

There is “a lot more work to be done” to pave the way for the success of other writers from a diverse range of backgrounds, she added.

Book of the year judge Pandora Sykes said Carty-Williams is “such an exciting new voice – thoughtful, playful and bold”.

She added: “The power of Queenie is the way it makes you feel: energised, moved, comforted.

“It is such an assured and original piece of debut fiction. Weighty issues about identity, race, family, heterosexuality and mental health are distilled into prose which is easily digestible, but extremely impactful.”

Queenie follows 20-something south Londoner Queenie Jenkins, an aspiring journalist who has just split up with her long-term boyfriend.

Novelist Bernardine Evaristo picked up two British Book Award prizes.

Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton/PA)
Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton/PA)

Her novel Girl, Woman, Other was named fiction book of the year, while she was also picked up the author of the year award.

Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was named audiobook of the year, while My Sister, The Serial Killer won crime book of the year.

Three Women won non-fiction narrative book of the year, while Holly Jackson’s The Good Girl’s Guide To Murder was named children’s fiction book of the year.

The Pinch Of Nom cookbook was awarded the non-fiction lifestyle book of the year prize.

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler won the children’s illustrated and non-fiction book of the year prize for The Smeds And The Smoos, while David McKee was named illustrator of the year.

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