[The JRB Daily] Masande Ntshanga, Omar Robert Hamilton, Anietie Isong and Kayo Chingonyi among the winners at the 2018 Society of Authors Authors’ Awards

Five African authors are among the winners of the 2018 Society of Authors Authors’ Awards.

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.

This year’s award ceremony was hosted by Stephen Fry, with an introduction by the President of the SoA, Philip Pullman.

Eight awards were presented to thirty-one writers.

South African author Masande Ntshanga won a Betty Trask Award for his novel The Reactive, while British–Egyptian filmmaker and writer Omar Robert Hamilton won the main Betty Trask Prize for The City Always Wins. The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented to a debut novel by a writer under thirty-five.

The McKitterick Prize, awarded to a first novel by a writer over forty, was won by Nigerian–British writer Anietie Isong for Radio Sunrise.

Zambian–British poet Kayo Chingonyi won a Somerset Maugham Award for his collection of poetry Kumukanda. The Somerset Maugham Awards are awarded to published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under thirty-five, to ‘enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries’. 

British-born Ghanaian poet, writer and filmmaker Victoria Adukwei Bulley won an Eric Gregory Award, awarded to a collection of poems by a poet under thirty, for her collection Girl Being.

Iconic reggae musician and poet Linton Kwesi Johnson won a Cholmondeley Award, presented for a body of work by a poet.

Joanne Harris, judge for the Betty Trask Prize and Awards and SoA Council and Management committee member, said: ‘The Authors’ Awards are among the most exciting and important literary awards around, and I’m honoured to be a part of them.

Awarded to authors by authors, they’re not designed to showcase celebrities or promote high-profile sponsors; just to honour writers and to bring their talent to the public’s attention. This year we have an especially interesting and impressive group of shortlistees and winners, and as a judge of the Betty Trask Prize, I’ve always been impressed by the scope and diversity of the entrants.’

This year’s judges included Joanne Harris, Samantha Shannon, Frances Fyfield, Abir Mukherjee, Irenosen Okojie, Sameer Rahim, Jen Campbell, Pascale Petit and Paul Bailey.

2018 Society of Authors Authors’ Awards winners

(information from the Society of Authors)

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards, presented to a first novel by a writer under 35.

The Betty Trask Prize Winner—Awarded £10,000

  • The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton (Faber and Faber)

The Betty Trask Award Winners—Awarded £3,250 each

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

The McKitterick Prize, awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40.

The McKitterick Prize Winner—Awarded £4,000

  • Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong (Jacaranda)

The McKitterick Prize Runner-Up—Awarded £1,250

  • The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard (Pan Macmillan)

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award, awarded to a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication.

Tom-Gallon Trust Award Winner—Awarded £1,000

  • ‘The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us’ by Chris Connolly

Tom-Gallon Trust Award Runner-Up—Awarded £575

  • ‘A Thousand Acres of English Soil’ by Benjamin Myers

The 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. Three writers each awarded £5250.

  • Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi—poetry (Chatto & Windus)
  • Elmet by Fiona Mozley—novel (JM Originals)
  • All the Prayers in the House by Miriam Nash—poetry (Bloodaxe Books)

Eric Gregory Awards, awarded to a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Seven poets each awarded £4050.

  • Zohar Atkins for System Baby
  • Victoria Adukwei Bulley for Girl Being
  • Jenna Clake for Fortune Cookie (Eyewear Publishing)
  • Joseph Eastell for Blossom Boy Beta Test
  • Annie Katchinska for Sesame Powders
  • Ali Lewis for Hotel
  • Stephen Sexton for The animals, moon

The Cholmondeley Awards, presented for a body of work by a poet. Five poets awarded £1680. 

  • Vahni Capildeo
  • Kate Clanchy
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson 
  • Daljit Nagra
  • Zoë Skoulding

The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. Awarded £5,000

  • Giles Tremlett for Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen (Bloomsbury)

The Travelling Scholarships, awarded to British creative writers to enable them to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad. Five writers each awarded £1575.

  • Jenn Ashworth
  • Tash Aw
  • Jessie Greengrass
  • James Harpur
  • Sudhir Hazareesingh
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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