University of East Anglia PhD student Deepa Anappara has won the second Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award worth £10,000 for her “completely assured” tale set in the slums of an Indian city.
Anappara was chosen unanimously for her novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, beating two other shortlistees, both nominated for short story collections: Dima Alzayat for Daughters of Manat & Other Stories and Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us.
Chair of the judges, Irish author Anne Enright, presented Anappara with the £10,000 cheque at the prize ceremony on Wednesday evening (16th May) with the runners-up both receiving £1,000.
Enright and fellow judges Peter Hobbs and Jenny Uglow whittled down the shortlist, announced earlier this month, from a longlist of eight chosen by Rogers Coleridge & White (RCW) agents from a total of 752 entries.
Anappara is currently studying for a PhD in Creative-Critical Writing at UEA in Norwich and has a Masters in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) from UEA, having previously worked as an award-winning journalist in India. She has previously won a number of other prizes for short fiction including 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.
Enright said: “The longlist contained eight original, formed voices, ready, or nearly ready, to take their place in the world,” Enright said. “The variety was heartening, as was the urgency and precision these new writers brought to the page. Those on the shortlist were at the point in their writing lives when originality is met by craft: you can feel, as you read, the wind catching their sails.
"Dima Alzayat and Chris Connolly are on the cusp of terrific work, each has a distinctive take on the world, and a sense of place in their chosen literary traditions, producing work that is sometimes funny and always new.”
Enright praised the depth and characterisation of Anappara’s work.
“We care about these characters from the first page and our concern for them is richly repaid,” the Man Booker-winning author said. “This is storytelling at its best – not just sympathetic, vivid, and beautifully detailed, but also completely assured and deft. Set in the slumlands of a sprawling Indian city, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a modern tale that works an ancient seam of the story-telling tradition.
“Not many writers can make it look this easy. What a privilege to be one of Deepa Anappara’s early readers. There are many more to come.”
Gill Coleridge, chair of RCW and director of the Deborah Rogers Foundation, paid tribute to the three shortlisted authors.“We have once again been very excited to discover three extraordinary new voices representing the best of the diversity in contemporary new writing and feel privileged to read their work at the beginning of their careers," she said. “The great success of the first winners of the 2016 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award has already brought distinction and renown to the Foundation and we are confident that the talented winners here tonight will enhance and continue that trajectory.”
Anappara will appear at the Hay Festival on 27th May where she will join Ian McEwan on stage for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Conversation following his interview with Stig Abell, TLS editor.
Two years ago Sharlene Wen-Ning Teo won the inagural award for Ponti, which went on to be published by Picador following a seven-way auction.
The award is for a first-time writer whose work shows literary talent but who needs support to complete their first book and includes fiction, non-fiction or short stories, but not poetry. It was founded in October 2015 in tribute to Deborah Rogers, the late literary agent and chair of RCW, who died in May of the same year. She set up her own agency in 1967, and 20 years later formed RCW with Gill Coleridge and Pat White.