[The JRB Daily] Masande Ntshanga, Omar Robert Hamilton, Anietie Isong and Kayo Chingonyi shortlisted for Society of Authors 2018 Authors’ Awards

Four African authors have been shortlisted for the Society of Authors 2018 Authors’ Awards.

South African novelist Masande Ntshanga and British–Egyptian filmmaker and writer Omar Robert Hamilton have been shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize, Nigerian–British writer Anietie Isong for the McKitterick Prize, and Zambian–British poet Kayo Chingonyi for the Somerset Maugham Award.

The awards distribute the United Kingdom’s biggest literary fund of more than £98,000 to established and emerging writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Previous winners include Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon.

The four prizes will be awarded at The Authors’ Awards on Thursday, 19 July 2018.


(information from the Society of Authors)

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards, presented to a first novel by a writer under 35. ​Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund is £26,250.

  • Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day (Tinder Press)
  • All the Good Things by Clare Fisher (Viking)
  • Strange Heart Beating by Eli Goldstone (Granta)
  • The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton (Faber and Faber)
  • Bad Ideas/Chemicals by Lloyd Markham (Parthian)
  • The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Jacaranda)

The Trask shortlist is always very strong, very original, and this year is no different—six books reflecting the excellent quality and diversity of new writers today. We have Clare Fisher’s touching, tough and incisive view of what it’s like to be a child in care, robbed of choices; Eli Goldstone’s fable-like tale that spirits the reader from London to the deep forests of Latvia; Lloyd Markham’s death stare at society, sharp as a syringe and gloriously weird; Masande Ntshanga depiction of the gritty reality of Cape Town in 2003 through the smoky lens of the young and high; Omar Robert Hamilton’s tough, bleak and relentless work—a challenging, heart-wrenching and in many ways, necessary novel; while Sarah Day presents a powerful but little-known historical narrative that needed to be told.—Judges Ben Brooks, Joanne Harris and Samantha Shannon


McKitterick Prize, awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund £5,250.

  • Darke by Rick Gekoski (Canongate Books)
  • Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong (Jacaranda)
  • The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard (Pan Macmillan)
  • Yes by Anne Patterson (Silvertail Books)
  • The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades (Chatto & Windus)

The fabulous debut novels in this year’s McKitterick shortlist take us from the open spaces of the Australian outback to inner worlds filled with loss, hope and self-acceptance. We have a deliriously well-written tale of impending old age and bereavement; a small volume about an utterly likeable Nigerian journalist, which stays long in the imagination; the quiet, inspirational story of the dilemmas faced by an autistic daughter after her powerfully protective mother dies; a perfect, mesmerising book about a woman after a stroke, which feels as if it contains half a lifetime of observation; and a tale set in the Australian outback at the end of World War II, full of moral dilemmas, brutality and humanity.—Judges Frances Fyfield, Aamer Hussein and Abir Mukherjee


Tom-Gallon Trust Award, awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total award fund £1,575.

  • ‘The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us’ by Chris Connolly
  • ‘My Body Cannot Forget your Body’ by Kirsty Logan
  • ‘A Thousand Acres of English Soil’ by Benjamin Myers
  • ‘Livestock’ by Valerie O’Riordan
  • ‘It Was a Very Good Year’ by Gabi Reigh
  • ‘A Brief Period of Rejoicing’ by Jacky Taylor

These six writers show how the short story form continues to excite. Ben Myers vividly paints generations of lives lived close to the earth, among birds and animals. Chris Connolly gives us a compelling, taut, emotionally charged evocation on loss. Gabi Reigh writes about large matters—exile, alienation, differences of language and culture—all hinted at with delicacy. Jacky Taylor explores the magic of small things and the tantalising allure of what could have been. Kirsty Logan’s imaginative, darkly beautiful piece is striking and assured—the boldest of the stories on the list. And the eagle-eyed protagonist of Valerie O’Riordan’s funny, acerbic rollicking tale seizes the reader’s attention immediately.—Judges Paul Bailey and Irenosen Okojie


Somerset Maugham Awards, for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund £15,750.

  • Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi – poetry (Chatto & Windus)
  • Fortune Cookie by Jenna Clake – poetry (Eyewear Publishing)
  • The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle by JD Dixon – novel (Thistle Publishing)
  • Elmet by Fiona Mozley – novel (JM Originals)
  • All the Prayers in the House by Miriam Nash – poetry (Bloodaxe Books)

In judging this year’s Somerset Maugham Award shortlist we’ve discovered five wildly different but equally excellent young writers. From poetry—Kayo Chingonyi’s playful, nostalgic poignance, Jenna Clake’s unique vision, and Miriam Nash’s hypnotic sense of place—to fiction—JD Dixon’s unforgiving, surprising and powerful narrative, and Fiona Mozley’s visionary book, written in luminous prose—it’s a privilege to include these writers and their work.—Judges Jen Campbell, Barney Norris and Ian Thomson

Header image: Masande Ntshanga: Masande Ntshanga/Omar Robert Hamilton: Omar Robert Hamilton/Anietie Isong: Anietie Isong/Kayo Chingonyi: Aitken Alexander Associates/Composite: The JRB

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