Shortlist of three announced for the 2018 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award.

Anne Enright (Chair), Pete Hobbs and Jenny Uglow -  the judges of the 2018 Deborah Rogers Writers Award – today announce the shortlist. Three first-time writers, one of whom will win £10,000 to support them financially while they complete their first book, have been chosen from a submissions total of 752 entries.

The judges began their reading in late March, from a longlist of eight entries chosen by agents within Rogers Coleridge & White. After six weeks of reading and debate, the shortlist is announced today.

The three writers shortlisted for the award are:

1.    Dima Alzayat – Daughters of Manat & other stories
2.    Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
3.    Chris Connolly – The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help US

Chosen from a longlist of eight, including the following:

1.    Julia Armfield – salt slow
2.    P. Kearney Byrne – The Dreamish
3.    Rebecca Langton – Featherweight
4.    Tess Little – When we Called the Police to Collect My Ex-husband’s Body
5.    Francine Toon – Pine

Anne Enright, Chairman of the judges, comments:

“The judges are delighted with this varied and hugely interesting shortlist which shows the vigour and range of writing in English today.  New work is always so heartfelt.  It is a privilege to witness talent at this early stage.”

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 16th May at an Award Ceremony in London and will receive a cheque for £10,000 from Anne Enright.  On Sunday 27th May, Ian McEwan will introduce the winner of the 2018 Writers Award to the audience following his interview with Stig Abell at the Hay Festival. Ian McEwan was a longstanding client of Deborah’s.

In keeping with Deborah’s lifelong objective to seek out and nurture new talent, this £10,000 award is for a first-time writer whose work demonstrates literary talent but who needs support to complete their first book. This should be fiction, non-fiction or short stories, but not poetry.

To enter, writers – who must reside within the British Commonwealth and Eire and whose work must be written in the English language – were required to submit 20-30,000 words of literary merit.

Gill Coleridge, Chairman of RCW, comments:

“We were once again thrilled to have had so many submissions for the 2018 Writers Award and are most grateful to our Judges, Anne Enright, Pete Hobbs and Jenny Uglow. The remarkable shortlist that they have chosen from a very strong longlist of eight will bring further credit and renown to the name of the Deborah Rogers Foundation.”


The DRF Writers Award 2018

£10,000 will be presented to a first-time writer whose submission demonstrates outstanding literary talent and who needs financial support to complete their work.

Conditions of Entry:

  • Submissions should take the form of 20-30,000 words of a work in progress, fiction or non-fiction, which is not under option or contract.
  • Applicants may not be under contract to any publisher for any work or title.
  • Applications are only open to writers who have not previously published a full length book of their own prose writing (including self-published or published on-line) excluding a collection of their own poetry.  They may have published short prose writing within a magazine/anthology.
  • Entrants must write in the English language and reside within the British Commonwealth and Eire.
  • Submissions should be accompanied with a brief synopsis and biographical note.
  • Applicants who submitted work for the 2016 Writers Award may re-apply but the work submitted must be new.

The Judges

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published two collections of short stories, published collectively as Yesterday’s Weather; one book of nonfiction, Making Babies; and six novels, including The Forgotten Waltz, which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, The Green Road which was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016, the 2015 Costa Novel Award, longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, won the Irish Book Awards Book Club Novel of the Year 2015 as well as the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2016, and The Gathering, which was the Irish Novel of the Year, and won the Irish Fiction Award and the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She was the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.

Peter Hobbs is the author of two novels, The Short Day Dying and In the Orchard, the Swallows, as well as a collection of short stories, I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train. He is also the coeditor of Sex & Death, an anthology of new short stories. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a writer-in-residence for the schools literacy charity, First Story.

Jenny Uglow OBE is a former Editorial director of Chatto & Windus, and Chair of the Council of the Royal Society of Literature. Her own books include prize-winning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell, William Hogarth, Thomas Bewick, and the Victorian architect Sarah Losh, as well as the acclaimed group studies, The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future, and In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793–1815. Her latest book Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense is a biography of Edward Lear. She lives in Canterbury.

Biographical information of the DRF Writers Award 2018 Shortlist

Dima Alzayat - Daughters of Manat & other stories
Dima Alzayat was born in Damascus, Syria, grew up in San Jose, California, and now lives in Manchester. Her stories have appeared in the Bristol Short Story Award Anthology, Prairie Schooner, Bridport Prize Anthology, and Enizagam. She was the winner of the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize, the 2015 Bernice Slote Award, and a 2013 Highly Commended Bridport Prize. Her short story In the Land of Kan’an was included in artist Jenny Holzer’s projection For Aarhus and was part of Holzer’s 2017 exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She is a PhD student and associate lecturer at Lancaster University.

Deepa Anappara - Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Deepa Anappara is currently doing a PhD in Creative-Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. She has a Masters in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) from UEA and previously worked as a journalist and editor in India. Her short fiction has won: the Dastaan Award, the Asian Writer Short Story Prize, the second prize in the Bristol Short Story awards and the third prize in the Asham awards. Her reports on education and human rights, published in newspapers and magazines in India, have won the Developing Asia Journalism awards, Every Human has Rights Media awards, and the Prabha Dutt Fellowship in Journalism. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line won the Bridport/Peggy Chapman-Andrews Awards for a First Novel in 2017.

Chris Connolly - The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us
Chris Connolly's fiction and poetry has appeared in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, Southword, the Galway Review and the Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction, among others, and has been broadcast on RTÉ Radio. His work has won numerous awards, including Best Emerging Fiction at the 2016 Hennessy Literary Awards, the RTÉ Francis McManus competition, the Over the Edge: New Writer of the Year award and the Lascaux Review Fiction Prize. He was also highly commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from UCD.

The Deborah Rogers Foundation:

The board of the Foundation, chaired by Lord Berkeley of Knighton, Deborah’s widower, comprises people who knew and loved Deborah, including RCW colleagues Gill Coleridge, Peter Straus and Zoë Waldie. The Members of the Foundation, which includes writers Ian McEwan and William Fiennes, are:

Lord Berkeley of Knighton CBE

Gill Coleridge (Chair, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd)
Peter Straus OBE (Managing Director, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd)
Tamsin Eastwood (Stone King LLP)
Dotti Irving (FourColmanGetty)

Company Secretary:
Nelka Bell (Director, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd)

Members include:
Richard Cable
Liz Calder
Carmen Callil
William Fiennes
Peter Florence MBE
Andrew Franklin
Margaret Halton
Mark LeFanu OBE
Ian McEwan CBE
Stephen Page
Baroness Rebuck of Bloomsbury DBE
Zoë Waldie

Information about the Winner and shortlisted authors of the Inaugural DRF Writers Award 2016

PONTI: Winner
Sharlene Teo was born in Singapore in 1987. She has an LLB in Law from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she received the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship and the David TK Wong Creative Writing award. She was shortlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize and holds fellowships from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and the University of Iowa International Writing Program. In 2016, she won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writers Award for Ponti, her first novel. Ponti is published by Picador (UK), with editions forthcoming from Simon & Schuster (USA/Canada), Buchet Castel (France), De Bezige Bij (Holland), Aufbau (Germany), Intrinseca (Brazil), Edizioni E/O (Italy), Hep Kitap (Turkey), Keter (Israel) and Sweden (Ramus).

‘Remarkable… her characters glow with life and humour and minutely observed desperation’ Ian McEwan

‘Witty, moving and richly evocative… Teo has produced a milestone in South East Asian literature’  Tash Aw

Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was a finalist in the MsLexia First Novel Competition and shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. Published in January 2018 it is a Sunday Times bestseller, and now shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.
‘Beautifully written... As seductive as any siren's song, this remarkable, glittering Georgian tale has a heart of purest gold’ Essie Fox

‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock nails the 18th century as convincingly as Francis Spufford in Golden Hill, but with supernatural elements that bring to mind Susannah Clarke and Sarah Perry’ Alex Preston

Guy Stagg grew up in Paris, Heidelberg, Yorkshire, and London, and read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was assistant comment editor at the Daily Telegraph, and has also written for the New Statesman and the Literary Review. The Crossway was the runner-up for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award, and it will be published by Picador in June 2018.

‘The Crossway is moving and unique, with the sense that no one else can write like this about such places as the abbeys of France, the cities of Rome and Istanbul or the daunting landscape of pilgrimage and the often astonishing people whom Guy Stagg meets. At the book’s heart is his own story; troubled, he seeks redemption and hope. Does he find them? He makes his search into a story that is gripping and uplifting’ Max Egremont
'Guy Stagg makes a pilgrimage across Europe, into history and, most powerfully, the (troubled) interior of his soul. He takes us on a journey full of wonder and woe, poetry and pain; writing in prose that’s as sure-footed as it is unsettling in its honesty. A brave and beautiful account of a man’s search for meaning' Rhidian Brook




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