Costa Book Awards: Monique Roffey wins for ‘classic in the making’ novel Mermaid of Black Conch

Judges said the author is ‘at the height of her powers’

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 26 January 2021 19:30 GMT
(Marcus Bastel)

The winner at this year’s Costa Book Awards has been announced.

Writer and memoirist Monique Roffey has been named the recipient of the £30,000 prize for her sixth novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch.

The book, based on a Taino legend, follows the dark love story between a fisherman and a mermaid from sea.

Judges described it as “a classic in the making” and hailed Roffey as “a writer at the height of her powers”.

Roffey beat the bookie’s favourite – Lee Lawrence for his memoir The Louder I Will Sing: A story of racism, riots and redemption.

The author said she was “delighted” and “proud” to win, adding: “This prestigious prize is a vote for so many things: Caribbean literature, experimental form, magical realism, independent presses, and of course, mermaids.

“A huge thank you to the judges for exposing my book to a wide readership. I’ll be pinching myself for weeks to come.”

Screenwriter and director Tessa Sheridan won the 2020 Costa Short Story Award, which was decided by a public vote. She has received £3,500 for her story, The Person Who Serves, Serves Again.

The winners were announced during a virtual ceremony hosted by Penny Smith. 

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