Johny Pitts’ book Afropean: Notes from Black Europe was announced the winner of the Jhalak Prize 2020 on May 26, 2020.
The Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour is an annual literary prize awarded to British or British-resident BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers. The Jhalak Prize, launched in 2016, was created by writers Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla as well as Media Diversified. Previous winners of the award have been Jacob Ross (2017), Reni Eddo-Lodge (2018), and Guy Gunaratne (2019).
The prize in 2020 was judged by a panel of Roy McFarlane, Anita Sethi, Kerry Young, and Nikesh Shukla who between them have produced poetry collections, essay collections, novels, and other work. The longlist was announced on March 3 and the shortlist revealed on April 14.
The winner of the prize was announced as television presenter, photographer and musician Johny Pitts for his book Afropean: Notes from Black Europe which catalogues the lives of Africans in Europe. Sunny Singh, director of the Jhalak Prize while announcing the winner online said, “this powerful book is a salute to the past, a powerful document of the present, and an insightful glimpse into the future.”
“The judges described the book as timely, a book that grabs you from the moment you start reading. They commended its beguiling language and noted that it embodies that reason the prize was set up in the first place,” she added. Watch the director make the announcement of the winner below.
Johny Pitts said on his win, “I’m completely overwhelmed. This book even to me at times strikes me as some sort of strange book. I don’t know what gave me the confidence to write it in the first place,” he said. “This book that might have been put right at the periphery placed at the centre is just overwhelming.”
Watch the writer make his acceptance speech below.
The writer receives a trophy and the 1,000 UK pounds prize money.