The Somali-British author Nadifa Mohamed’s latest novel The Fortune Men has won the 2022 Wales Book of the Year in the Fiction, People’s Vote, & Overall English Language categories.
The award, which is administered by the national organization Literature Wales, annually celebrates outstanding literary talents from Wales, both in English Language and Welsh. The awards are conferred across four genres: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Children and Young People, with one of the winners from all four categories ultimately awarded the Book of the Year. The awards come with a collective cash prize of £14,000. Mohamed will receive “coveted Wales Book of the Year trophy” and a £4,000 cash prize.
Described as “grippingly-paced” and “a novel on fire”, The Fortune Men is the novelized account of the real life account of Mahmood Hussein Mattan, the Somali former merchant seaman who was executed after being wrongfully convicted of murder. The novel was published in 2021 by Viking Press, UK, to rave reviews, earning, among other honors, a 2021 Booker Prize shortlist.
The 2022 judging panel includes poet Krystal Lowe, journalist Andy Welch, presenter Matt Brown, and poet Taylor Edmonds. The winners were announced live on the Radio Wales Arts Show (BBC Radio Wales). Mohamed, who was on air as they announced her major win, noted she was sitting in a car park in London and was “probably the happiest person sitting in a car park right now.” She shared about the personal connection she had to the story—the man the story is based on was from her hometown and known by her father—and how important it was for her to tell this story.
Join us in sending a big congratulations to Nadifa Mohamed!