Rutendo Chabikwa and Anni Domingo have been announced as the joint winners of Myriad's 2018 First Drafts Competition for unpublished writers.
Chabikwa was chosen for her short story about mental anguish and depression entitled "Todzungaira". The judges said they found it "beautifully written, captivating and very moving", commenting that "the author has managed to develop a story about a sensitive and taboo topic that is not only relevant but shines a light on an important subject".
Domingo was chosen for an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, Breaking the Maafa Chain. The judges called it "a refreshing and original take on a time period that is often talked about". They added: "The author has developed a great style, allowing readers to follow the story with ease. The historic framing is especially notable. This is a truly beautiful piece of work."
Now in its ninth year, the Myriad’s First Drafts competition recognises "promising work-in-progress" and is open to writers who have not yet published a collection of stories or novel. This year, in a special edition of the competition, to celebrate the forthcoming publication of New Daughters of Africa in March, edited by Margaret Busby OBE, eligibility was restricted to unpublished women writers who identify as being of African heritage.
The competition was judged by Busby, literary agent Elise Dillsworth, Vanessa La Rose of New Beacon Books, Myriad’s publishing director Candida Lacey, New Internationalist editor Kelsi Farrington and novelist and West Dean tutor Martine McDonagh.
The winners will feature in the forthcoming anthology, the aim of which is to show "the remarkable range of the African diaspora".In addition to up-and-coming writers it also includes contributions from established authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Malorie Blackman, Esi Edugyan, Andrea Levy, Warsan Shire and Zadie Smith. The winners also get to attend a week’s writing retreat at West Dean College, which is co-organiser of the competition, based in West Sussex.
Busby commented: "We have been hugely impressed by the standard of writing and the variety of styles and subject matter, and were faced with a wonderfully hard task of choosing between 10 strong candidates on the shortlist.
"Rutendo Chabikwa and Anni Domingo are worthy winners—both of their submissions stood out from the first readings and I am delighted to include them in New Daughters of Africa. This is a wonderful opportunity not only for the winners to be published alongside major authors but also for each of the finalists to bring their work to the notice of publishers and agents. We look forward to seeing all of these talented writers go from strength to strength."