Tayari Jones wins the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019

Tayari Jones has won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her heartbreaking novel An American Marriage.

An American Marriage is a stunning love story about family, injustice and marriage, and three people at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. The lives of newlyweds Celestial and Roy are torn apart when Roy is arrested and sent to prison for 12 years for a crime he did not commit. An American Marriage tackles racial inequality, wrongful incarceration and heartbreak with grace. It is an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward – with hope and pain – into the future.

Professor Kate Williams, Chair of Judges, said: ‘This is an exquisitely intimate portrait of a marriage shattered by racial injustice. It is a story of love, loss and loyalty, the resilience of the human spirit painted on a big political canvas – that shines a light on today’s America. We all loved this brilliant book.’

Kate Williams presented Jones with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine at an awards ceremony in London. Both are anonymously endowed.

Chris Gordon, the programming and events manager for Readings, says this about An American Marriage: ‘It is such a pleasure when a novel takes over your life and you find yourself carrying the book throughout your busy day, in the hope that somewhere, sometime, you will be able to squeeze in another couple of pages.’ She went on to further describe An American Marriage as ‘a novel that will stir you to reconsider your own beliefs and politics, and it provides an intimate view of how other people live.’

The winning novel was shortlisted alongside five other stunning books: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, Milkman by Anna Burns, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Ordinary People by Diana Evans and Circe by Madeline Miller.

Kate Williams described the shortlist as: ‘fiction at its best – brilliant, courageous and utterly captivating … We fell totally in love with these books and the amazing worlds they created.’


Congratulations to Tayari Jones and the other shortlisted authors!