POET JAY Bernard has won the 2020 Young Writer of the Year Award with their debut collection.
Surge explores the infamous 1981 New Cross Fire that killed thirteen young Black people. The incisive poet makes a link between the New Cross Fire and the “towers of blood” at Grenfell, while exploring the wider context of Black British history. The collection is based on archives from the George Padmore Institute.
Booker Prize award winning author Bernardine Evaristo congratulated the writer on Twitter.
Surge was already highly acclaimed. The collection also won the Ted Hughes Award and was shortlisted for a number of other prestigious awards.
Bernard will receive £5,000 in prize money, a ten week residency at the University of Warwick and two years’ membership to the London Library.
The Young Writer of the Year Award recognises the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35.
It is organised by the Sunday Times and the University of Warwick.
Previous winners include Raymond Antrobus and Zadie Smith.
Kit de Waal, Houman Barekat, Sebastian Faulks and Tessa Hadley judged this year.