Women’s Prize for Fiction: Obama-backed author Tayari Jones wins

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Nina Subin

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Tayari Jones

A book about the wrongful conviction of a young black American man has won the the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

An American Marriage by US writer Tayari Jones scooped the prize at the London awards on Wednesday.

The book was described by former US President Barack Obama as a “moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple”.

Jones wins £30,000 and the “Bessie” – a limited edition bronze figurine.

Chair of the judges, professor Kate Williams, said: “This is an exquisitely intimate portrait of a marriage shattered by racial injustice.

“It is a story of love, loss and loyalty, the resilience of the human spirit painted on a big political canvas – that shines a light on today’s America.”

She added: “We all loved this brilliant book.”

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Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey have both praised Jones’s work

In 2018, US chat show host Oprah Winfrey announced Jones’ fourth novel as her latest book club pick, saying “it’s one of those books I could not put down”.

Jones fended off competition from five other shortlisted authors, including two former Booker prize winners Anna Burns and Pat Barker.

Previous winners of the award have included Zadie Smith and last year’s successful author, Kamila Shamsie.

The event at Bedford Square Gardens were hosted by novelist and Women’s Prize founder-director, Kate Mosse and also saw Helen Rogers named as the winner of the Women’s Prize/Grazia First Chapter Competition for unpublished writers.

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