Candice Carty-Williams is first black author to win Book of the Year at the British Book Awards

Laura Hampson

Candice Carty Williams’ debut novel Queenie has been named as Book of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards (Nibbies) - making her the first black author to win the prestigious prize.

Queenie, which was released in April 2019 to much praise, was also named as Debut Book of the Year during the virtual ceremony.

This isn’t the first prize Carty-Williams has won for Queenie. Her debut novel which, pre-lockdown, had sold 79,726 copies, has previously been named as Blackwell's Book of the Year 2019, was a runner-up for the Costa First Novel Award and she's also been short listed for this year's Comedy Women in Print Prize .

On winning the award, 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 onto 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. Overall, this win makes me hopeful that although I’m the first, the industry is waking up to the fact that I shouldn’t and won’t be the last.”

British Book Award Winners 2020

Book of the Year: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Debut Book of the Year: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Author of the Year: Bernadine Evaristo

Fiction Book of the Year: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Crime & Thriller Book of the Year: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Children’s Fiction Book of the Year: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Children’s Illustrated and Nonfiction Book of the Year: The Smeds and the Smoos by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Nonfiction Lifestyle Book of the Year: Pinch of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone

Nonfiction Narrative Book of the Year: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Audiobook of the Year: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

For the Book of the Year title, Queenie trumped the likes of Booker Prize winning Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (which was named as the Fiction Book of the Year and Evaristo also won Author of the Year).

Despite recent backlash on social media after trans comments , J K Rowling also made an appearance at the awards, held yesterday afternoon, to accept the special ‘30 from 30’ award in honour of the British Book Awards 30th anniversary for her book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Rowling said: “It’s particularly meaningful because the first award Harry ever won was a Nibbie.”

In fact, besides illustrator Axel Scheffler who won the title of Best Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction alongside collaborator, Julia Donaldson, every major prize was won by a woman at this year’s awards.

The audiobook prize went to The Testaments by Margaret Atwood while the Nonfiction Narrative was won by the much-lauded Three Women by Lisa Taddeo .

Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone won the Nonfiction Lifestyle category for their cookbook, Pinch of Nom, and the Crime and Thriller section was won by Oyinkan Braithwaite for her novel, My Sister the Serial Killer.