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The Diverse Book Awards 2021 Adult Shortlist Revealed

By Hannah Davenport, Caitlin Evans and Thomas Caldow


At the end of September, the shortlist for The Diverse Book Awards was announced. Now in its second year, the award’s aim is to shine a spotlight on inclusive and diverse books in the UK. The award was created in November 2019 by Abiola Bello and Helen Lewis, founders of The Author School. When Abiola found that there was only one award dedicated to diverse books in the UK she decided this had to change. After sharing the idea with Helen, they agreed to create the award. The award proved hugely popular last year with sixty entrants, and the 2020 winner was Ayisha Malik with This Green and Pleasant Land. The runners up were Claire Adam with Golden Child and Candice Carty-Williams with Queenie. This year seven spectacular titles have made the adult shortlist. Here is a look at each of the titles.



A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf (Myriad Editions)


Huf is a Californian born author and short story writer. A More Perfect Union was also long-listed for the Jhalak Prize 2021. The novel is a historical romance which follows the tragic love story between a Black slave woman and an Irish immigrant. Huf challenges themes of race and poverty, creating a complex and gripping narrative.


If I Don’t Have You by Sareeta Domingo (Jacaranda)


This captivating romance novel follows two creative leads in New York city: Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Ren and Black-British artist and journalist Kayla. Both are on different paths in the journey of life but can’t deny their strong attraction after meeting during interviews about Ren’s latest film. Their separate lives soon become entwined with passion and secrets, and the pair are left to confront questions about the future and their place in life.


Broadwater by Jac Shreeves-Lee (Fairlight Books)


The setting for this short story collection is Broadwater Farm, an infamous housing estate in North London. As a Tottenham local herself, Shreeves-Lee tells tales of the people behind the outer face of violence and poverty. The stories portray the colourful and generational culture of this community, comprising of more than forty nationalities, in an emotional and hopeful way.


Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud (Faber)


Winner of the 2020 Costa First Novel Award, this book is already critically-acclaimed and a fan favourite. Set in Trinidad, the story follows the Ramdin-Chetan mother and son duo, and their eccentric lodger Mr Chetan, as an unconventional family. When truths begin to leak, and broken secrets threaten their familial bonds, loneliness begins to take hold and the family are driven apart attempting to reach forgiveness.


The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain (HQ)


The Family Tree is a moving novel about a Muslim family in Britain, set over one generation. From losing their mother as children and relying upon their father to bring them up, Saahil and Zahra enter the adult world with unexpected burdens. Saahil faces a devastating incident on a night out, and Zahra tries to navigate her politically-charged activism plans whilst balancing caring for her father.


The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Oneworld)


Also shortlisted for the Jalak Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, The First Woman has been a hit in 2021. The novel finds its protagonist, Kirabo, in a small Ugandan village dominated by powerful women. Each female member of her family has brought prosperity and influence, and demand that Kirabo do the same. Yet, there is one woman that she can’t help but miss; the mother she has never known.


Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah (HQ)


Abdullah’s latest offering is already garnering rave reviews, and for good reason. Truth Be Told's courtroom drama presents us with a tight, challenging and utterly compelling portrayal of the case of Kamran Hadid, who is confronted with an awful truth following a drunken night out. As ever with Abdullah, this book will keep readers on the edge of their seats long after its dramatic conclusion.


While inclusion on this list is already an achievement in itself, the three authors taking the top awards will also receive a six-month PR and marketing membership with Literally PR’s ‘100 Club, an online event and feature in collaboration with Back to Books, editorial write-ups in both Bad Form and Pen&Inc as well as the chance to take part in two panel events which are to be hosted by The Author School and Simon & Schuster. Whether you are looking to find out which books take home these fantastic prizes, or simply want to celebrate the achievements of every one of the incredibly talented authors you can tune into the online awards ceremony on Youtube on 21 October.


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