The 2023 DRF Writers Award will open for submissions on 1st January 2023 and close on 31st March 2023. The winner will be announced in October 2023.

The judges of the 2023 DRF Writers Award will be the 2021 Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah (Chair), along with award-winning novelist, Claire Adam, and the renowned writer and journalist, Annalena McAfee. They will announce the shortlist of three in October 2023 and the Award will be presented in London later that month.      

The DRF Writers Award gives £10,000 to a previously unpublished writer whose submission of 15,000-20,000 words demonstrates talent. The submitted work can be fiction, non-fiction, children’s or short stories. The applicant must be a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Eire.

Details of the Award are as follows:

£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:

  • Submissions should take the form of 15,000-20,000 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 in any language.
  • Applications are 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 or Eire.
  • Submissions should be accompanied with a brief synopsis and biographical note.
  • Applicants who submitted work for the DRF Writers Award previously may re-apply but the work submitted must be new.
  • The winner receives a cheque of £10,000 and each of the two runners-up receives £1,000.

Every submission is read at least three times by a team of readers at RCW who select a longlist of about eight entries which the Judges will read “blind”. The longlisted authors will be revealed on the website once the judges have chosen a shortlist of three. Applicants will be notified if their work is chosen for the longlist. 

Judges of the 2023 Writers Award


Abdulrazak Gurnah is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021. He is the author of ten novels: Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way, Dottie, Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award), Admiring Silence, By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award), Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) The Last Gift, Gravel Heart, and Afterlives, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Fiction 2021 and longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. He was Professor of English at the University of Kent and was a Man Booker Prize judge in 2016. He lives in Canterbury.

Claire Adam was born and raised in Trinidad. She read Physics at Brown University and later took an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she gained a distinction. Her debut novel Golden Child was published by Faber & Faber and SJP for Hogarth in 2019, and was listed as one of the BBC's 100 Novels that Shaped our World. It was awarded the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Author's Club Best First Novel Award and the McKitterick Prize 2020. She lives in London.

Annalena McAfee worked in newspapers for more than three decades. She was arts and literary editor of the Financial Times and founded the Guardian Review, which she edited for six years. She has written eight children’s books, and has three novels The Spoiler, Hame and Nightshade published by Harvill Secker.

The previous Winners of the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

Nabugodi MathelindaThe winner of the 2022 DRF Writers Award was Mathelinda Nabugodi for The Trembling Hand, a work of non-fiction to be published by Hamish Hamilton in the UK and Knopf in the US in 2024.  The runners-up were Yasmine Awwad for The Shrills and Sophie Meadows for The Frog, both are works of fiction.


The winner of the 2020 DRF Writers Award was ‘Pemi Aguda for The Suicide Mothers. In second place was Stephen Buoro for The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa and in third place S. Bhattacharya-Woodward for Zolo and Other Stories. All three titles were works of fiction.


The winner of the 2018 DRF Writers Award was Deepa Anappara for her novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Since winning the prize this novel has been sold in over 21 territories and was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a Literary Supernova”. The runners-up were Dima Alzayat for Daughters of Manat & Other Stories which was published as Alligator & Other Stories and Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us. Both titles are collections of stories.


The winner of the inaugural 2016 DRF Writers Award was Sharlene Teo for her novel Ponti. Since winning the award this novel has been sold in 10 countries. The runners-up were Guy Stagg for The Crossway, a memoir, and Imogen Hermes Gower for her novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

The Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

The Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award was the first initiative of the Deborah Rogers Foundation, set up in 2015 in memory of the much loved and respected literary agent, Deborah Rogers. In keeping with Deborah’s special talent for nurturing and supporting emerging new writers, the Award gives £10,000 to a previously unpublished writer whose submission of 15,000- 20,000 words demonstrates literary talent and who needs financial support to complete their first book. The submitted work can be fiction, non-fiction, children’s or short stories. Applicants must reside in the British Commonwealth or Eire. The winner receives £10,000 and the two shortlisted authors £1,000 each.

The Award is biennial, alternating with the Deborah Rogers Foundation David Miller Internship Programme which offers work placements in publishing houses and agencies worldwide and £10,000 to cover travel and accommodation costs. The first winner, in 2017, was Sam Coates, senior rights executive at Vintage UK and the second, in 2019 was Prema Raj, of AM Heath.