“Small Island,” Andrea Levy’s saga of Jamaican immigrants in postwar Britain has won the Whitbread Book of the Year award.
Levy, 48, of London, had been highly favored to take out the $58,000 prize after her story won Whitbread’s novel of the year award earlier this month.
A panel of judges, which included British actor Hugh Grant, selected Levy’s novel for the overall prize, above winners of the award’s first novel, biography, poetry and children’s book categories. The announcement was made Tuesday.
Chair of judges Trevor McDonald said “Small Island” was a brilliantly observed novel about a period of English history that many people knew little about.
“The book is a slice of life from the West Indian Diaspora, people who came over here in the 1940s to fight for the mother country against the tyranny of Hitler’s Germany. It is a great story and she handles the material absolutely brilliantly,” he said.
The Whitbread awards were established in 1971 and are Britain’s longest-running literary competition. They are open to residents of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)