Shortlist of three announced for the 2021 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

Shortlist of three announced for the
2021 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award


  • Judges Colm Tóibín, Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud announce the shortlist for the 2021 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award
  • Three are chosen out of 983 entries
  • The shortlist was chosen from a longlist of twelve submissions
  • Winner to be announced by Colm Tóibín (live from L.A) on 7th December at The Amadeus in London
  • Ian McEwan, Trustee of the DRF, to present the Awards

Colm Tóibín (Chair), Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud - the judges of the 2021 Deborah Rogers Writers Award, today announce their shortlist of three. These first-time unpublished writers have been chosen from a longlist of twelve submissions. This year the total number of entries was 983. 

‘There was a genuine excitement in finding these new voices, these different and ingenious ways of approaching narrative. What was apparent in each of the twelve longlisted writers was an energy in the way characters and events were dramatized. The settings and the forms used were various, but what was constant was a commitment to getting it right and making it new. Thus, the time I spent reading these writers of the future was enjoyable and uplifting.’ - Colm Tóibín

The three writers shortlisted are:

  1. Yasmine Awwad, THE SHRILLS
  2. Sophie Meadows, THE FROG
  3. Mathelinda Nabugodi, THE TREMBLING HAND: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive  

These were chosen from a longlist of eight, including the following:

  1. Kate Cheka, SAME DUST 
  3. Dean Fee, THOSE BOYS THERE 
  4. Allen Bratton, THE HENRIES 
  5. Jennifer Howze, A GOOD TEXAS GIRL  
  6. Lanre Otaiku, HERESY
  7. Ingrid Rolington, NOBODY KNOWS
  8. Jessica Traynor, SLAPPED ACTOR 
  9. April Yee, DOSAGE

Colm Toibin (on screen from Los Angeles) will announce the winner and runners-up at the Award ceremony being held in London on Tuesday 7th December. Ian McEwan, Trustee of the DRF, will present the prizes of £10,000 to the winner and £1,000 to each of the runners-up.  Following the event, the ceremony will be available on social media and at

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 can 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 15,000-20,000 words of literary merit.

Judges of the 2021 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster and, most recently, The Magician, published in September 2021. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, won the Costa Novel Award and the Impac Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.
Deepa Anappara was born in Kerala, southern India, and worked as a journalist in India for eleven years. Her debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was named as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post and Time. It was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and shortlisted for the JCB prize for Indian literature. A partial of the novel won the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award, and the Bridport/Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel. It is being translated into 22 languages.

Anna James is a writer and arts journalist. She is the author of the bestselling Pages & Co series which has sold into 21 countries. The first three books in the series are out now, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in the UK and Penguin Young Readers in the US, with three more books to come. Formerly Book News Editor at The Bookseller and Literary Editor of ELLE UK, Anna is currently the host and co-curator of Lush Book Club, as well as writing about books and theatre as a freelance journalist for outlets including The Stage, the LA Times and Buzzfeed. She has also contributed stories for the Kate Mosse edited collection, I Am Heathcliff, and Goldsboro Books’ 21st birthday anthology. 

Ingrid Persaud was born in Trinidad, and won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 and the BBC Short Story Prize 2018. She read law at the LSE and was a legal academic for many years before taking degrees in fine art at Goldsmiths College and Central Saint Martins. Her writing has appeared in Granta and Prospect magazines. Ingrid lives in London. Her debut novel, Love After Love, was published by Faber & Faber in 2020 and was the winner of the 2020 Costa First Novel Award.

Previous winners of the DRF Writers Award

2020 DRF Writers Award: was won by ‘Pemi Aguda’s novel The Suicide Mothers. In second place came Stephen Buoro with The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, a work of fiction. Third place was awarded to S.Bhattacharya-Woodward for Zolo and Other Stories, a collection of short stories. 

2018 DRF Writers Award: was won by Deepa Anappara’s novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus) since sold in 20 territories and hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a Literary Supernova”. The runners-up were Dima Alzayat for Alligator & Other Stories (Picador) and Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us.

2016 DRF Writers Award: was won by Sharlene Teo’s novel Ponti (Picador) since sold in 18 territories. The runners-up were Guy Stagg for The Crossway (Picador) and Imogen Hermes Gower for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (Harvill Secker). The runners-up were Guy Stagg for The Crossway and Imogen Hermes Gower for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.


The Crossway is an account of Guy Stagg’s extraordinary pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem. It will be published by Picador on the 14th June 2018 and will be BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week from the 18th June 2018.
The winner of the inaugural DRF David Miller Bursary, Sam Coates, has reported on his time spent at four different publishing companies. The report is now available to read in this post.
The shortlist for the 2018 DRF Writers Award will be announced on Wednesday 2nd May. The Award itself will be presented by Anne Enright on Wednesday 16th May at an event in London
We are delighted to announce the publication of The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar this month by Harvill Secker.
At 6pm on Wednesday 13th December submissions to the DRF Writers’ Award closed. The winner will be announced in May 2018 and shortlisted writers will be contacted directly.
Submissions for the 2018 Writers’ Award close on 13th December.
Submissions open from 1 October until 13 December 2017. Man Booker winner, Anne Enright, to chair the judges. Ponti, winner of the inaugural award, already sold in 8 countries
Submissions for the 2018 Writers Award will open on 1st October 2017 and close on 13th December 2017.
The winner of the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Bursary Award is Sam Coates, Senior Rights Executive of Vintage Books, PRH. The Bursary will henceforth be known as the DRF David Miller Bursary in memory of David Miller (1966-2016) who worked at RCW and was a founding member of the DRF Bursary.
The applications for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Bursary award are now closed.