Carrie Jade Williams wins Bodley Head and FT essay prize

Carrie Jade Williams wins Bodley Head and FT essay prize

The Bodley Head and the Financial Times have announced Carrie Jade Williams as the winner of their eighth annual essay prize.

The County Kerry author's winning work “When I Edit with Assistive Technology” will be published in the Financial Times Life & Arts section on 28th November 2020. She will also receive £1,000 and a free e-publication in November 2020 with The Bodley Head, plus a mentoring session with both organisations.

Williams, who has Huntington’s disease, said: “‘I only started writing at the start of this year when I got my diagnosis and decided I wanted to write a book. I was struggling with imposter syndrome, so decided to try and get 100 rejections in a year—never expecting to place anything. Honestly, none of this was expected at all. As a disabled writer I am beyond grateful for the advice and support from platforms that have made themselves more accessible, such as Marianne Power’s Writing for Sanity, Writers HQ and The Novelry.

“This has been overwhelming and I am now excited to try and find a home for my novel. Writing has become my sanctuary in the world that’s very slow to be fully accessible for those living with neurological illnesses.”

The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize, open to anyone between 18 and 35 years old, aims to discover global young talent in long-form essay writing.

Two runners-up, “A ‘River Passes By Here” by Caroline Eaton Tracey and “The Cockroach and I” by Saranya Subramanian. will also be published as e-books by The Bodley Head.

This year’s judges were author and FT contributing editor Simon Schama, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li, literary agent Emma Paterson of Aitken Alexander Associates, Bodley Head publishing director Stuart Williams and FT Weekend editor Alec Russell.

Paterson said: “In a year of restriction and containment, I was grateful to have these essays take me all over the world, from the parks of Hackney to the waves of the Black Sea and the salt lakes of Mexico City. In the winner, I believe we’ve discovered a truly standout voice, at once staggeringly moving, form-defying and existentially profound. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.”