‘The People Are the Real Power’: Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage Wins the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction

Tayari Jones speaks onstage at the 10th Anniversary Women In The World Summit on April 11, 2019 in New York City.
Tayari Jones speaks onstage at the 10th Anniversary Women In The World Summit on April 11, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

There is grace, and then, there is the kind of grace that unconditional, enduring love requires; the kind of love Tayari Jones’ Celestial and Roy are struggling to keep alive in her celebrated novel, An American Marriage.


Already published in several countries and on pretty much every recommended reading list of 2018 (including Oprah’s, the Obamas’ and ours) Jones’ searing novel of black love just garnered the author another incredible honor: the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

To understand the significance of this particular win, the 23-year-old award, open to female English-language writers, garners submissions from around the world, according to the Washington Post.

Jones was one of six finalists in the running for the 30,000-pound ($38,000) prize, including Nigeria’s Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer); 2018 Man Booker Prize winners, Anna Burns (Milkman) and the U.K.’s Pat Barker (Silence of the Girls); Madeline Miller (Circe); and British writer Diana Evans (Ordinary People).

The bestselling author and professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta shared her response to experiencing yet another big win for An American Marriage with The Glow Up, via Facebook:

“This prize celebrates women writers and women’s voices,” she wrote. “There is a lot of talk about speaking truth to power, but my fellow nominees and I are writing accessible novels that speak truth to the people. It’s because we understand that the people are the real power.”


That, my friends, is grace.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?


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Will get myself on the probably super long waiting list for this at my library.

*Correction* there’s about 90+ copies in my library system, so it will come very soon.