Rosanna Amaka’s The Book of Echoes is on the shortlist for the Royal Society for Literature’s Christopher Bland Prize 2021 announced on May 17, 2021.
The RSL Christopher Bland Prize is an annual award to a debut novelist or non-fiction writer first published aged 50 or over. The Prize was launched in 2018 by the Bland family and friends, with the RSL, in memory of Sir Christopher Bland who died in 2017. Sir Christopher is best known for his leadership in broadcasting, the arts and business. He didn’t start writing until after his retirement publishing two novels to critical acclaim: Ashes in the Wind and Cathar. His play The Easter Rising and Thereafter was staged by the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2016 – 100 years to the day after the uprising in Dublin.
This year’s judges are Mary Beard (Chair), Monica Ali, Georgia Byng and Ben Hunte. Mary Beard announced the shortlist on May 17 which included Rosanna Amaka’s The Book of Echoes. The novel is a sweeping, uplifting story of how a boy from Brixton and a girl from Lagos escape their dark past to find themselves a bright future. The book blurb goes thus;
1981: England looks forward to a new decade. But on the streets of Brixton, it’s hard to hold onto your dreams, especially if you are a young black man. Racial tensions rumble, and now Michael Watson might land in jail for a crime he did not commit.
Thousands of miles away, village girl Ngozi abandons her orange stall for the chance to work as a maid. Alone in a big city, Ngozi’s fortunes turn dark and soon both her heart and hopes are shattered.
From dusty roads to gritty pavements, Ngozi and Michael’s journey towards a better life is strewn with heartache and injustice. When they finally collide, their lives will be transformed for ever.With irresistible joy and grace, Rosanna Amaka writes of people moving between worlds, and asks how we can heal and help each other. Humming with beauty and horror, tragedy and triumph, THE BOOK OF ECHOES is a powerful debut from an authentic new voice in British fiction.
Rosanna Amaka said of the listing, “I am delighted that #TheBookOfEchoes has been shortlisted for the #christopherblandprize. Congratulations to all the other wonderful shortlistees! Being older rocks. There is so much life and lessons learnt between us all. Thank you RSL.”
The winner who gets £10,000 will be announced on Thursday June 3.