He just became the first male writer ever to win romantic fiction’s top award. The former agony uncle explains why his latest novel looks back at the ‘virulent’ prejudice of 1950s Britain

In the past, the Romantic Novelists’ Association has bestowed its outstanding achievement award on some major names, among them Jilly Cooper, Helen Fielding and Joanna Trollope. But this month, a genre traditionally dominated by women presented its top prize to Mike Gayle. Not only is he the first ever male author to win, he’s also the first person of colour to take home the gong.

“It’s just lovely,” says Gayle. “It’s lovely to be recognised by anybody, and the RNA have been great to me ever since my first book came out. Back then, I had no idea how long this this thing would last. It took me ages to think of it as a career – because I could just imagine it sort of disappearing. To be here, 20 years later, I think that is a real achievement.”

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 1:00am