Monday, July 21, 2008

2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
Overall Winner Meets HM the Queen

Canadian writer, Lawrence Hill, will have an audience with Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, at Buckingham Palace on 24 July, 2008; it was announced today, 21 July, 2008.

The audience is part of Hill’s award for winning the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (CWP) Overall Best Book, for his novel, The Book of Negroes. Hill’s epic novel follows one woman's remarkable tale of survival and migration, and in so doing examines the history of slavery and liberation in the United States, Canada, England and West Africa. The £10,000 cash prize was awarded in May at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in the Cape Winelands District, South Africa.

To celebrate his visit Lawrence Hill will be involved in several activities during his stay in the UK including an in conversation with Delia Jarrett-Macauley at Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, on 24 July, 2008 from 6.30pm. Lawrence will also pay a visit to the National Archives in Kew where the original document, The Book of Negroes, on which his award winning novel is based, is kept, and meet the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma.

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is presented annually by the Commonwealth Foundation. The Prize aims to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, and to take their works to a global audience, thereby increasing appreciation of and building understanding between cultures. It is organised and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation.

For the second time in five years, the Overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prize award has gone to a novel unpublished in the UK. Following Austin Clarke with The Polished Hoe, who was snapped up by Tindal Street following his win, writer Lawrence Hill has not only won the £10,000 prize for The Book of Negroes but also landed a new publishing deal with Doubleday UK - highlighting that the international judging process of the Prize is at the forefront of recognising talent, identifying new voices and helping books reach global audiences.

The 2007 overall winner, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, went on to be shortlisted for the Man Booker and to become a bestseller worldwide. The CWP Best First Book Award, meanwhile, is a showcase for emerging literary talent with many of the winners, such as Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Mark Haddon, going on on to become international bestselling writers. This year’s Best First Book prize was awarded to Tahmima Anam for A Golden Age.

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