Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, has been named the winner of the the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2023 for her debut novel, When We Were Birds, a mythic love story set in Trinidad and Tobago.
Founded in 2017 by David Headley, the co-founder and m.d. of Goldsboro Books, the Glass Bell is awarded annually to a novel of any genre with "brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised".
Banwo’s novel follows two unforgettable outsiders, brought together by their connection with the dead. The book was praised by the judging team as “radiant and powerful.”
She was announced as the winner at a party held at our London store this evening (28th September), pipping to the post international bestseller Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews, a Sunday Times top ten bestseller; Metronome by Tom Watson, a pick for BBC2’s Between the Covers, Notes On An Execution by Danya Kukafka, an Edgar Award winner; and Pandora by Susan Stokes Chapman, the instant no.1 Sunday Times bestseller.
David Headley, Goldsboro Books co-founder and MD, and founder of the Glass Bell Award says: “I don’t think our judging table has ever been so lively before this year. The shortlist was so incredibly strong, and there was a strong advocate for each book. However, I distinctly remember there being a collective sigh of admiration when we came to discussing When We Were Birds, and from the conversation that followed, it was crystal clear that Ayanna’s debut was the undeniable winner of this year’s Award. Not only is the book utterly radiant and so powerful, but Ayanna is one of my favourite ever guests I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing on my podcast, Confessions of a Bookseller. Her talent and personality shine through on the pages. Congratulations to Ayanna, from the whole Goldsboro team.”
The winner of the Glass Bell Award will receive £2,000 and a beautiful, handmade glass bell.
Last year, Elodie Harper took home the Award for The Wolf Den, the first in her Wolf Den Trilogy. The book was hailed by the judging team for being “rich and submersive”.