Awards: Plutarch Biography Winner; Dylan Thomas Winner

Anansi's Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World by Yepoka Yeebo (Bloomsbury) has won the 2024 Plutarch Award for the Best Biography of 2023.

Biographers International Organization said that "in a captivating, genre-bending debut, Yepoka Yeebo reconstructs the strange life of John Ackah Blay-Miezah, a big, cigar-chomping flim-flam man from Ghana who masterminded one of the largest, longest-running con jobs the world has ever seen. Yeebo sets the stage in the tumultuous early days of independence from British colonialism, when most of Ghana's considerable wealth was still held in London. When Ghana asked for its money, much of it had disappeared in bad investments. The scandal lodged in Blay-Miezah's brain, where it morphed over time into a bold plan glued together with criminal intent.

"For years Blay-Miezah lived lavishly and outwitted his investors as well as Ghanaian governments, Swiss bankers, British businessmen, and the FBI. To research this brilliant study of human duplicity and greed, Yeebo sought obscure and far-flung sources. She found people willing to talk and documents that had survived war, fire, and rampages. Yeebo skillfully pulls back Blay-Miezah's curtain of lies and fake identities to reveal how he charmed his victims out of millions. Wry, penetrating, and unfailingly entertaining, the book sits at the intersection of biography, history, and investigative journalism."


Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson (published in the U.S. by Grove Press) has won the 2024 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, honoring works of fiction by authors around the world aged 39 or under. The Prize has a £20,000 (about $25,330) award.

Chair of judges Namita Gokhale said, "Amid a hugely impressive shortlist that showcased a breadth of genres and exciting new voices, we were unanimous in our praise for this viscerally moving, heartfelt novel. There is a musicality to Caleb Azumah Nelson's writing, in a book equally designed to be read quietly and listened aloud. Images and ideas recur to beautiful effect, lending the symphonic nature of Small Worlds an anthemic quality, where the reader feels swept away by deeply realised characters as they traverse between Ghana and South London, trying to find some semblance of a home. Emotionally challenging yet exceptionally healing, Small Worlds feels like a balm: honest as it is about the riches and the immense difficulties of living away from your culture."

Open Water, the British-Ghanaian writer's first novel, was shortlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize in 2022.

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