Candice Carty-Williams said she feels “proud” but “sad” for becoming the first black author to win the book of the year at the British Book Awards.
Her acclaimed debut novel, Queenie, defended titles by authors such as Lisa Taddeo, Oyinkan Braithwaite and Margaret Atwood.
She joined the winner’s podium by Bernardine Evaristo, who was named author of the year.
Her booker-winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other, won the fiction book of the year.
Reacting to his victory, Carty-Williams said, “I’m not sure how I feel about winning the 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 onto the shelves. .
“I am also sad and confused to be the first black and female author to win this award since it started,” she continued.
“Overall, this victory makes me hopeful that, although I am the first, the industry is waking up to the fact that I should not and will not be the last.”
Reni Eddo-Lodge makes history in the book chart
The victory comes just a few weeks after fellow author Evaristo became the first British black woman to lead the UK’s fictional brochure ranking; and Reni Eddo-Lodge became the first British British author to top the UK bestseller list.
Carty-Williams’ book, about a troubled Jamaican girl, was dubbed “black Bridget Jones” at its release, but its author explained to Stylist last year that this was not entirely accurate, because of the character’s background.
“Well, everyone compared it to a black Bridget Jones,” she told the fashion publication. “That’s how I thought about her too.
“But this book is also naturally political just because of who Queenie is. She is not Bridget Jones. She could never be.”
Yearbook judge Stig Abell described it in other terms, as “a novel of our time, full of intelligence, wisdom and urgency”.
He added that the author “was not afraid to face life as it is being lived by a single young black woman in the city”.
“This should not be filed simply as a funny debut by a brilliant writer (although that is it); this is an important meditation on friendship, love and race,” he continued.
Elsewhere, there were victories for Oyinkan Braithwaite for his book My Sister, the Serial Killer; Kate Allinson and Pinch of Nom, by Kay Featherstone, gained the best nonfiction lifestyle; and Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments acquired the audiobook of the year.
Check out the full list of winners on The Bookseller website.