Patrice Lawrence is the winner of the inaugural Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Prize for her YA novel, Eight Pieces of Silva.
The Jhalak Prize is an annual literary prize for British or British-resident writers of colour established in 2016 and founded by Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla in conjunction with Media Diversified and supported by the Author’s Club. A unique celebration of the rich array of exceptional work from writers of colour, whether it be fiction, non-fiction, short stories, graphic novels or poetry, the prize is also open to self-published writers. The Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize was announced in 2020.
The announcement was made at a virtual ceremony in partnership with the British Library with 12 Jhalak Prize Bookshop Champions introducing the shortlist titles before the winners’ announcement. Alongside winner of the adult prize, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Patrice Lawrence was awarded £1,000 and a specially commissioned, unique trophy created by artist Ruthine Burton.
Speaking about the winners, Prize Director, Sunny Singh said, ‘The 2021 Jhalak judges have picked two books that are towering literary achievements, full of authorly courage, stylistic panache and great heart. Patrice Lawrence’s Eight Pieces of Silva and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman both confront terrible realities, ask painful questions and experiment playfully with form, style and language. Most of all, they both find strength, compassion and resilience in places and times where these seem entirely impossible. In their complex, nuanced explorations of the human experience, Lawrence and Makumbi both find hope, joy and reasons to cherish and celebrate our shared humanity.’
The judges for the inaugural Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Prize were Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Candy Gourlay. Candy Gourlay said, ‘The very first Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Book Award had a cornucopia of beautiful books pitted against each other. Eight Pieces of Silva was a standout, richly textured with strong ‘aha!’ cultural references. Powerful, unputdownable, and totally satisfying’.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave added, ‘Amongst a constellation of extraordinary stories, each of which made their mark, Eight Pieces of Silva, became our navigating star. We loved it for its unapologetic celebration of teen culture. A mystery, a drama and a comedy, it feels like a book that is entirely of the moment, but with qualities that will make it endure. It’s the perfect inaugural winner of the Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Award.’
Patrice Lawrence said, ‘I am so surprised, joyful and downright grateful that Eight Pieces of Silva has been awarded the inaugural Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Prize amongst such wonderful competition. I can’t stop smiling knowing that a book starring a Black, working class, proudly out lesbian (and K-Pop fan) connects with so many people.’
The Jhalak Children’s & Young Adult Prize 2021 Shortlist in full:
The GA Picture Alphabet, Nii Ayikwei Parkes & Avril Filomeno (Self-published)
When Life Gives You Mangoes, Kereen Getten (Pushkin Press)
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster)
Queen of Freedom, Catherine Johnson (Pushkin Press)
Eight Pieces of Silva, Patrice Lawrence (Hachette Children’s Books)
A Fox Called Herbert, Margaret Sturton (Andersen Press)