'Utterly original' Monique Roffey wins Costa book of the year

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The Mermaid of Black Conch takes £30,000 award for 2020’s most enjoyable book, acclaimed by judges as a classic in the making

Monique Roffey has won the £30,000 Costa book of the year award for her sixth novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, which opens as a fisherman on a Caribbean island sees a “barnacled, seaweed-clotted” mermaid raise her head from the sea.

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Suzannah Lipscomb, the historian and broadcaster who chaired the judges, said the novel was “utterly original – unlike anything we’ve ever read – and feels like a classic in the making from a writer at the height of her powers”. Based on a legend from the Taino, an indigenous people of the Caribbean, the novel is a dark love story about fisherman David and Aycayia, a beautiful woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, who has swum the Caribbean for centuries.

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