A gay author has won one of the world’s top literary prizes for the second year running.

Lesbian Camilla Gibb, won the Trillium Book Award in the English-language category, for her book, Sweetness in The Belly, described as a compelling description of life as a white Muslim woman.

The judges called it a “compelling first-person account of a white Muslim woman whose religious devotion proves the only constant in a life characterized by exile, offers scenes of both harrowing limbo and joyful uplift.

“The novel subtly engages topical questions of both politics and faith, but ultimately it is the author’s sustained psychological acuity and uncanny empathy in detailing Lilly’s life lessons that lend this book its vital depth, charm and staying power.”

The winners of Ontario’s foremost prize for literary excellence, the Trillium Book Award/Prix Trillium, were announced yesterday by Ontario minister of culture, Caroline Di Cocco, and by Peter Steinmetz, acting chair and Michel Frappier, chief executive officer of the Ontario Media Development Corporation at a gala at the St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto, Canada.

“Ontario is home to many of Canada’s, and indeed the world’s, most exceptional writers,” said Ms Di Cocco. “On behalf of the people of Ontario, I would like to congratulate all the nominees and the recipients. You have distinguished yourselves by producing creative and high-quality works that are among the very best in Ontario’s thriving book publishing industry.”

Trillium Book Award English-language and French-language winners receive $20,000. Their publishers receive $2,500 towards their promotional costs. The winners of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in each language receive $10,000 and their winning publishers receive $2,000. For the first time this year, all finalists receive a $500 honorarium.

“We are fortunate that Ontario has such a wealth of literary talent to draw upon,” said Mr Steinmetz.

“Over 300 books were submitted this year for review by the English and French juries.”

Ms Gibb is a bestseller in most major US markets and has also been published in eight other countries including the UK.

Wayson Choy won the same prize last year.