A BOOK by a St Neots man which was found hidden in his loft after five years of gathering dust has been nominated as one of the world’s outstanding literary works.

Allain Ngwala’s debut alternative history fiction novel Congo: Spirit of the Darkness would never have made it into print if his brother, Mayi, had not stumbled across the masterpiece in the family attic while searching for a Christmas tree.

He was so impressed by the work, based on the true story of his native country’s fight against slavery, that he worked with Allain to hone it ready for print and contacted some American publishers to persuade them to take it on.

To Allain’s surprise, his and his brother’s first book was not only released by Genet Press on November 26 but was nominated for the prize of Outstanding Literary Work - Debut Author at the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People’s (NAACP) Image Awards.

The 40-year-old, of Duchess Close, St Neots, will travel to the awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, USA, on February 1 next year to find out whether he has won, where he will rub shoulders with global celebrities.

If he wins, his moment of glory will be captured live on American television channel NBC.

“I was so shocked,” said Allain, who works as an IT and clinical data consultant. “I never thought in my entire life that this would happen. It is a dream come true.

“I wrote the book in 2000 and I left it in the loft until five years later, when my brother came to visit for Christmas.

“He took the book back with him to the United States, where he lives, and he surprised me with the good news that he had organised to have it published.”

The novel, set in the 1800s, is told through the eyes of Susan Bailey Dawson and focuses on the slavery that ravaged the country at the time.

Allain, who was born in Kinshasa, Congo says he wrote it for his two children to educate them about his native country and its history but never imagined it would be published.

“I wanted them to know about the suffering of the Congolese people and how difficult it was during the slave trade,” he said.

He and Mayi are now writing a follow-up title, which will be the second in their trilogy about the African country.

The brothers intend to donate £1 of every book sale to help raise money for those suffering in the current civil war in the Congo.