The Authors’ Club 2021 Best First Novel Award Winner Announced

The Authors’ Club is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2021 Best First Novel Award is Ingrid Persaud’s Love after Love (Faber).

The guest adjudicator, novelist Michèle Roberts, presented the £2,500 award at a reception at the National Liberal Club in London on 30 June. She said: 

“This bittersweet story of domestic abuse, loss, separation, heartbreak and redemption is leavened with deadpan humour. The reader bears witness, as the characters do, to how when conventional family ties are destroyed by violence, new, more flexible ones can be woven with compassion, tolerance, and hard-won love.”

Roberts faced the daunting task of selecting a winner from a stunning shortlist that also included:

Tsarina, Ellen Alpsten (Bloomsbury)

The Book of Echoes, Rosanna Amaka (Doubleday)

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara (Chatto)

Who They Was, Gabriel Krauze (4th Estate)

What’s Left of Me is Yours, Stephanie Scott (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The prize is for the debut novel of a British, Irish or UK-based author, first published in the UK. There is no age limit. The winning novel is selected by a guest adjudicator from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu, who said: 

“This is a vivid and atmospheric exploration of prejudice in Trinidad. Lyrical and beautifully crafted – a poignant debut about love and friendship and a worthy winner.”

The shortlisted writers can be viewed reading from their works here.

Inaugurated in 1954, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is now in its 67th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction and – except for the James Tait Black and the Hawthornden – the oldest literary prize in Britain. Past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Nadeem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, Ros Barber, Carys Bray, Benjamin Johncock, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Gail Honeyman and Guy Gunaratne. Last year’s prize was awarded to Claire Adam for Golden Child, making this is the second year running that a book set in Trinidad has won, and the second consecutive win for a book published by Faber & Faber.

The Authors’ Club was established by Walter Besant in 1891, the Club has provided a social meeting place for writers for over 125 years.

For further info on the award contact chair of the judges:

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