British author of Ghanaian heritage Derek Owusu has been awarded the 2020 Desmond Elliot Prize for his debut novel That Reminds Me, a moving, coming-of-age story about a young, black Londoner named K, dealing with issues of mental health, identity, sexuality and violence.

The novel was selected winner from an exciting shortlist of black writers. The other writers are Nigeria’s Abi Dare for The Girl With The Louding Voice and Okechukwu Nzelu for The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney. Owusu will receive a cash award of £10,000.

The Guardian reports that Owusu’s novel was described by the judges as a “transcendent work of literature.”

Chair of the judging panel Preti Taneja, who is also a previous winner, said the novel was “written with a rare style that wrings pure beauty from every painful, absurd moment K must face”.

“Despite the terrors around him, this young black man has an instinctive love for the world which burns at the core of the book,” said Taneja. “The judges and I were as shattered by the truths of the story as we were moved by the talent of its writer. Derek Owusu has given us a unique, profound and transcendent work of literature: we want as many readers as possible to discover it – once they do they will return to it again and again.”

Brittle Paper congratulates Derek Owusu!