Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction ‘Winner of Winners’ for her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. This one-off award marks the culmination of the prize’s year-long 25th-anniversary celebrations, forming a key part of the Reading Women campaign which champions 25 years of phenomenal winners. Chimamanda was chosen in a public vote from a list of all 25 winners. Other past winners include Zadie Smith, the late Andrea Levy, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain and Maggie O’Farrell, amongst others.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded for the best full-length novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom. The prize champions excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing, and the winner receives a cheque for £30,000 along with a limited edition bronze statuette known as the ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist, Grizel Niven.
Chimamanda’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, originally won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then the Orange Prize) in 2007. Set in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the novel is about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class, race, and female empowerment – and how love can complicate all of these things. The novel garnered critical and popular acclaim when it was first published in 2006. It was later adapted into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton in the lead roles in 2013.
Throughout 2020, thousands of readers embarked on a challenge to read all 25 previous winners of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, joined the digital book club to share their thoughts, and downloaded the prize’s newly created online reading guides and exclusive author interviews. Over 8,500 people voted in September.
Chimamanda said: “I’m especially moved to be voted ‘Winner of Winners’ because this is the prize that first brought a wide readership to my work, and has also introduced me to the work of many talented writers.” Author and playwright Kate Mosse, who is the founder and director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, also said she is “thrilled that Half of a Yellow Sun won.”
“Our aim has always been to promote and celebrate the classics of tomorrow today and to build a library of exceptional, diverse, outstanding international fiction written by women. The Reading Women campaign has been the perfect way to introduce a new generation of readers to the brilliance of all of our 25 winners and to honour the phenomenal quality and range of women’s writing from all over the world,” She said.
Chimamanda will be presented with the Bessie, a specially-commissioned silver edition of the prize’s annual statuette. She will talk further about her writing and being chosen for the ‘Winner of Winners’ award in an exclusive live online event hosted by Kate Mosse and the Women’s Prize for Fiction on Sunday 6, December at 7pm GMT. Head over to the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s website to get your tickets.
Waterstones and Adichie’s UK publisher 4th Estate have created an exclusive hardback special edition of Half of a Yellow Sun. Priced at £18.99, they will be available on Waterstones from Wednesday 25 November. The book will also be available to purchase as part of the online live event.