Posted Friday 25 September 2020
Kingston School of Art graduate Oyinkan Braithwaite has been crowned winner of the prestigious Crime and Thriller Book of the Year at the British Book Awards for her debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer. Braithwaite beat off stiff competition from crime heavyweights including Val McDermid and Lee Child to take the prize in the awards which are run by The Bookseller, and celebrate the best of the British book industry.
Braithwaite graduated in creative writing and law in 2012 and has since enjoyed success as a freelance writer, editor and spoken word artist in her home city of Lagos, Nigeria. My Sister, the Serial Killer is a dark, comic thriller, focusing on the relationship between two Nigerian sisters. It received rave reviews on publication, featuring as a Sunday Times Bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.
The novel was also shortlisted for the 2019 Big Read, Kingston University's award-winning, shared reading scheme.
Braithwaite is a firm believer in the benefits of formal study for writers. "It is because writing appears so attainable that I think it is worth spending time studying the art either as an individual or under the tutelage of people who will broaden your exposure," she said. "The Creative Writing BA course introduced me to writers trying new things with style and form, I read books I would not have otherwise picked up and I was able to flex my writing muscles," she said.
The author said studying at Kingston - where she was twice nominated for an academic achievement award - boosted her confidence as a writer and spoken word artist. "The lecturers were really supportive and encouraging. I remember one of my screenwriting lecturers pointing out to me that I could have a career in the industry, which really inspired me," she said.
At university she embraced the opportunities on offer and had her first taste of performing and being published. "I had work accepted into the University publication. I also performed spoken word for the first time at a Kingston University event," she said. "I still have all my creative writing coursework and, now and again, I go back to the massive folder and flip through, looking for ideas."
Associate Professor of Creative Writing Dr Adam Baron taught Braithwaite in her third year and congratulated her on her recent achievements. "Oyin, as we knew her when she was at Kingston, was a great student - her work was dynamic and fresh and showed a lot of potential. We are delighted to see her flourishing in her career," Professor Baron said.
Braithwaite's advice for students following in her footsteps as a writer was to keep working at the art. "I still buy books on writing, I still read articles about writing and I still take the time to figure out ways to exercise my writing muscles. My advice to budding writers is this - keep challenging yourself."
• Find out about creative writing courses at Kingston University