Colm Tóibín will be a judge on the Deborah Rogers Foundation Award in 2021, alongside Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud, as the prize is brought forward a year.
The £10,000 prize has been brought forward “to support debut writers in lockdown,” according to Rogers, Coleridge & White (RCW), which facilitates the award. Normally it runs for writers on a biennial basis, alternately with a bursary supporting foreign-rights agents.
RCW said: “Has creativity been stifled during lockdown? Certainly 2020 was a difficult year for many established writers, whose publications were delayed, with bookshops closed and festivals cancelled. But it has been especially difficult for debut writers seeking to get their voices heard. In direct response to this, a year ahead of schedule, the Deborah Rogers Foundation is bringing forward their biennial Writers Award for first-time writers from 2022 to 2021." The award is open to submissions from today (1st April) until 1st July.
This year’s judging panel will be chaired by Tóibín and supported by James, Anappara and Persaud.
Tóibín has written 10 novels, two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He had been shortlisted for the Booker three times, and won the Costa Novel Award and the Impac Award. James is a freelance writer and author of the Pages & Co series, as well as being a former Bookseller journalist. Her books have been sold in 21 countries. Anappara (pictured) went on to be published by Chatto in 2020 (Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line) after a partial of the novel won three prizes, including the Deborah Rogers Foundation (DRF) Award. Persuad’s debut novel, Love After Love (Faber), won the 2020 Costa First Novel Award.
The DRF was set up in 2015 tribute to the late literary agent Deborah Rogers following her sudden death in 2014, to continue to seek out and support emerging talent. Rogers set up her own agency in 1967, and 20 years later formed RCW with Gill Coleridge and Pat White.
Coleridge, who founded the prize, said: "Deborah was passionate about supporting new writers and so, in the spirit of this prize set up in her memory, we want to help them towards publication now rather than wait another year. I hope this opportunity will help the longlisted and winning writers become as successful as the roll call of previous DRF winners is proving to be. I am thrilled to have such a distinguished group of judges on board, chaired by Colm Tóibín, and am confident we have an exciting year ahead of us.”
The prize will be presented to a first-time writer whose submission demonstrates outstanding literary talent and who needs financial support to complete their work. The judges will announce the shortlist of three in November 2021 and the award will be presented in London on 7th December 2021. The winner receives a cheque of £10,000 and each runner-up receives £1,000.
The winner of the 2020 Writers Award was Pemi Aguda, for The Suicide Mothers, a work of fiction.
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