Derek Owusu has won the Desmond Elliott Prize for his “transcendent” novel-in-verse, a semi-autobiographical tale of a British-Ghanaian boy called K
The judging panel was chaired by author and previous Desmond Elliott Prize-winner Preti Taneja, alongside the Observer's Sonia Sodha, and writer Sinéad Gleeson. Taneja said: “That Reminds Me is 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 that burns at the core of the book. 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 again and again"
Anansi, your four gifts raised to nyame granted you no power over the stories I tell...
This is the story of K.
K is sent into care before a year marks his birth. He grows up in fields and woods, and he is happy, he thinks. When K is eleven, the city reclaims him. He returns to an unknown mother and a part-time father, trading the fields for flats and a community that is alien to him. Slowly, he finds friends. Eventually, he finds love. He learns how to navigate the city. But as he grows, he begins to realise that he needs more than the city can provide. He is a man made of pieces. Pieces that are slowly breaking apart.
That Reminds Me is the story of one young man, from birth to adulthood, told in fragments of memory. It explores questions of identity, belonging, addiction, sexuality, violence, family and religion. It is a deeply moving and completely original work of literature from one of the brightest British writers of today.