Maisie Chan has been awarded the Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize for her acclaimed Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths at a joyful ceremony in the pavilion of the British Library.
Prize co-founder Professor Sunny Singh called Chan to the stage having described the debut as “a warm-hearted, hilarious middle grade novel that does not shy away from the complexity of the diasporic experience.”
In an emotional speech, Chan paid tribute to the prize, her fellow nominees, and the power of persistence: “I was saying to my friends: ‘Do you remember two decades ago when I said I wanted to be a writer?’ I’ve done it!”
Published by Piccadilly Press and illustrated by Anh Cao; Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths tells the tale of its cartoon-crazy eponymous hero, and his relationship with his grandmother. Set in Birmingham, the whip-smart novel balances delicate insights into inter-generational relationships and British Chinese culture with frequent bursts of laugh-out-loud comedy.
The Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize seeks to celebrate books ‘by writers of colour aimed at young readers.’ The novel was the unanimous choice of the judging panel – with one judge remarking that the book “made me love it more with each reading.”
In addition to the £1,000 prize; Chan was also presented with a stunning original artwork from artist (and fellow Bonnier Books UK alumni) Rikin Parekh, created as part of the Jhalak Arts Residency.
In an evening of celebration, Sabba Khan’s graphic novel The Roles We Play was also crowned the winner of the Jhalak Prize for Best Book.
Chan – also shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards – becomes the second winner of the Children’s and YA Prize, following in the footsteps of inaugural recipient Patrice Lawrence.
Her next novel, Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu, publishes this summer with Piccadilly Press.