Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, Chair of judges, said: “We loved all of the books and deliberated for three hours before choosing our winner. The Mermaid of Black Conch is an extraordinary, beautifully written, captivating, visceral book – full of mythic energy and unforgettable characters, including some tremendously transgressive women.”
Winner: Novel of the Year
Jill McDonald, CEO of Costa Coffee, said: “Five outstanding books and five very worthy Award winners – what a wonderful way to start the year. The Costa Book Awards are all about recognising great writing and a good read and we’re very proud to be announcing such a brilliant collection of books for readers to explore and enjoy.”
This cruelty, however, is trumped by the tenderness of the fisherman David, the princely Caribbean saviour who sweeps to her rescue. But rather than another plain sailing romance, it’s a tongue-in-cheek fantasy sitcom that follows — making for a much more fun read. Instead of a golden carriage, she’s cut down to the ground, covered in tarp and whisked away in a wheelbarrow by this spliff-smoking local; slung over one shoulder like a “roll-up piece of carpet” you’d lob in the dump, then bundled unceremoniously into the back of a truck.
What makes the novel sing is how Roffey fleshes out these mythical goings-on with pin-sharp detail from the real world, as Aycayia, hidden away in David’s bedroom, navigates the perils (and pleasures) of life on land. After her tail rots, she relearns to walk in an old pair of David’s green suede Adidas. Her nostrils bleed “all kind of molluscs and tiny crabs”. David worries that the smell and the noise of her wordless song might attract nosy neighbours, not least Priscilla, whose mean-spirited meddling injects a dose of malevolent comic energy into the action.