Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men (Viking, Penguin Random House) was revealed to be the Wales Book of the Year Award 2022 winner on July 29, 2022.
Wales Book of the Year is a national book award celebrating outstanding literary talent from Wales across many genres and in both English and Welsh annually since 2004. To be eligible, books need to be written by a Welsh or Wales-based writer or must have strong Welsh-themed content.
The awards in the English-language category were this year judged by poet and writer Krystal Lowe, journalist and broadcaster Andy Welch, author and presenter Matt Brown, and poet and recipient of a 2020 Rising Stars Award Taylor Edmonds. After a shortlist of June 20, the panel announced the winner to be Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men in the fiction category and the People’s Vote category as well as the overall winner making it a hattrick of wins.
The Fortune Men is Nadifa Mohamed’s third novel after Black Mamba Boy and Orchard of Lost Souls which have all won prizes. It is a fictionalised retelling of the story of Mahmood Mattan, a man wrongfully convicted of murder in 1950s Cardiff. He is a father, chancer, petty criminal. He is many things, but he is not a murderer. So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn’t too worried. He is innocent in this country where justice is served. It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of returning home dwindles, and it dawns on Mahmood that he is in a fight for his life – against conspiracy, prejudice, and cruelty – and that the truth may not be enough to save him.
On behalf of the judging panel, Krystal Lowe said: “We want to thank every single writer who submitted their book to this award. It was not only a joy but an honour to read every one of them. It was incredible to see the breadth of talent and creativity living in Wales, and I look forward to following the long and fruitful careers of all the writers who submitted. We are so pleased to have selected Nadifa Mohamad’s The Fortune Men and hope that many people read this compelling novel.”
Nadifa Mohamed receives a total prize of £4,000 and a bespoke trophy, designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones.