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The Animals In That Country by Laura Jean McKay is the winner of the 2021 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction book of the year.

The winner was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row by journalist and science fiction fan, Samira Ahmed.

Accepting the prize, Laura Jean McKay said:

Twenty years before Margaret Atwood won the first Arthur C Clarke award, she published a small but important collection of poetry called The Animals in That Country, a title I borrowed for my book. That this book could become one of the Clarke award winners alongside Atwood – as well as other writers I adore like Miéville and Whitehead – is a momentous honour. I wrote The Animals in That Country to look closely at the relationship between humans and other animals. In these strange times, I find that (more than ever) reading and writing connects us humans as well.

Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, commented on the fact that all six shortlisted books this year were by debut authors: 

Our six shortlisted debut novelists have found ways to rework tools that sf has used for over two centuries. This should give us all hope for the future of our genre.

Award Director Tom Hunter added:

For 35 years the Clarke Award has promoted not only the best of science fiction but also new ways of defining and exploring it. Laura’s win re-positions the boundaries of science fiction once again, and we’re delighted to welcome her to the genre.

Laura Jean McKay receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2021.00; a tradition that sees the annual prize money rise incrementally by year from the year 2001 in memory of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
 
The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2021 were: Stewart Hotston, British Science Fiction Association; Alasdair Stuart, British Science Fiction Association; Phoenix Alexander, Science Fiction Foundation; Nicole Devarenne, Science Fiction Foundation; Nick Hubble, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival; Dr Andrew M. Butler, non-voting Chair of the Judges, Serendip Foundation.

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