The six-strong shortlist for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour has been announced, with themes of "coming of age, kinship, loss and belonging, and the black diaspora in Europe", dominating the line-up this year.
Shortlisted are: Dean Atta's young adult novel The Black Flamingo (Hodder Children’s), Yvonne Battle-Felton's "magical and atmospheric" novel Remebered (Dialogue) and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, which explores a young British black woman's experience of "grief, sadness, social issues and mental health" (Trapeze/Orion).
The list is completed by Mary Jean Chan's poetry collection Fleche (Faber), which has also been shortisted for the Swansea University Thomas Dylan Prize, Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera (Bloomsbury), a "brilliant coming of age tale", and Afropean: Notes From Black Europe by Johny Pitts (Allen Lane), described by judge Kerry Young as “an insightful and open-hearted book of enormous scope and intellectual integrity”.
The shortlist was decided by a panel including poet, activist and writer Roy McFarlane, journalist, critic and author Anita Sethi, novelist and screenwriter Nikesh Shukla, and novelist Kerry Young.
Prize director Sunny Singh said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought us one of the greatest challenges of our times. It has also emphasised how much we need great literature, especially literature that can take us to new places, light up our memories, nudge our collective conscience and lead our imaginations to new horizons. Our 2020 shortlist is such a celebration, offering brilliant insights and exquisite writing in a feast for our minds, hearts and souls.”
The winner will receive £1,000 and a specially commissioned work of art by Tehran-born, London-based artist Neda Koochakian Fard.
The prize accepts entries published in the UK by a writer of colour. This includes fiction, non-fiction, short story, graphic novel, poetry, children’s books, YA, teen and all genres. The prize is also open to self-published writers.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the prize will be awarded online on 26th May 2020. A reception celebrating longlisted writers, judges and supporters is planned for later in the year.