Trinidadian novelist Ingrid Persaud is a finalist in the UK’s Costa Book Awards. Her novel Love After Love is in the running for the annual £5,000 prize for Top First Novel.
The Costa Book Awards are a set of annual literary awards in five categories recognising English-language books by writers based in Britain and Ireland.
A nominated author need not be a citizen to win the prize. Persaud, a writer in her 50s, left Trinidad at 18 to study and work in the UK. A late bloomer, she won both the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award with The Sweet Sop.
Love After Love is about an unconventional household in Trinidad. It tells the story of Betty Ramdin, who suffered for years at the hands of her husband, an abusive drunk who “only gave love you could feel. He cuff you down? Honeymoon. He give you a black eye? True love in your tail.”
Widowhood saves Betty. After her husband’s death she takes in a lodger, Mr Chetan, a decent man who becomes Betty’s best friend as well as a father figure to her young son, Solo. They settle into a platonic partnership.
The First Novel Award Prize will be handed out on January 4. Persaud is up against three other novels – Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen, The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain and All the Water in the World by Karen Raney.