Ken Chee Hing
TRINIDAD-BORN writer Monique Roffey has been declared winner of the overall Costa Book of the Year award and with it, a £30,000 cheque.
She won for her novel The Mermaid of Black Conch (Peepal Tree Press), which is her sixth book.
The book, said the UK Guardian, was described as an “utterly original” piece by historian and broadcaster Suzannah Lipscomb, who chaired the panel of judges.
Roffey was announced winner at a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday. Late Irish poet Eavan Boland and children’s author Natasha Farrant were in the running for the overall prize.
Roffey, who has lived in the UK for many years, and visits TT frequently, turned to crowdfunding – the Guardian reported – to raise money for a publicity campaign for the book in 2019.
Inspiration for it came while Roffey was in Tobago back in 2013, where, after a fishing competition, she saw a marlin hanging above a jetty. That led her to imagining a mermaid being dragged from the sea. She began writing the book in 2016.
This is Roffey’s second time on the Costa Novel Award shortlist. Her win comes six years after her first shortlisting, for the book House of Ashes (2014), which is based on the 1990 attempted coup.
Roffey and another TT-born writer, Ingrid Persaud, were shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Book Awards last December. Persaud won the Costa First Novel Award for her book Love After Love.