Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Roffey wins Costa Book of the Year 2020

In the UK, Monique Roffey has won the £30,000 (A$53,000) Costa Book of the Year for her novel The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story (Peepal Tree Press).

The Mermaid of Black Conch, Roffey’s sixth novel, is ‘a dark love story between a fisherman and a mermaid torn from the sea’. After the book was turned down by the big publishers, it was published by Leeds-based independent Peepal Tree Press, with Roffey crowdfunding her own PR campaign for the title.

Chair of judges Suzannah Lipscomb said the novel is ‘an extraordinary, beautifully written, captivating, visceral book—full of mythic energy and unforgettable characters, including some tremendously transgressive women’.

‘It is utterly original—unlike anything we’ve ever read—and feels like a classic in the making from a writer at the height of her powers,’ said Lipscomb. ‘It’s a book that will take you to the furthest reaches of your imagination. We found it completely compelling.’

Roffey’s book beat out three titles, including Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury), to take out the novel category, and was chosen as the overall winner ahead of the four other category winners: The Louder I Will Sing: A Story of Racism, Riots and Redemption (Lee Lawrence, Sphere) for biography, Love After Love (Ingrid Persaud, Faber) for first novel, The Historians (Eavan Boland, Carcanet) for poetry, and Voyage of the Sparrowhawk (Natasha Farrant, Faber) for children’s.

The winner of last year’s Costa Book of the Year was Jack Fairweather’s biography The Volunteer: The true story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz (W H Allen).

For more information about the prize, see the Costa website.


Category: International news