Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award shortlist revealed

Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award shortlist revealed

Yasmine Awwad, Sophie Meadows and Mathelinda Nabugodi have been shortlisted for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award, chosen from 983 entries this year. 

The unpublished writers were selected from a longlist of 12, selected by chair of judges Colm Tóibín (pictured), Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud. 

The £10,000 award is for a first-time writer whose work demonstrates literary talent but who needs support to complete their first book. This can be fiction, non-fiction or short stories. To enter, writers – who must reside within the British Commonwealth or Ireland and whose work must be written in the English language – were required to submit 15,000-20,000 words of literary merit.

Awwad has been shortlisted for her fiction work "The Shrills". She is a production editor and writer, and has an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University, where she was shortlisted for the 2020 Janklow & Nesbit Prize. In 2019, she was longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition, and in 2018, highly commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize.

Meadows was chosen for "The Frog", also a work of fiction, centred on Renaissance poet Isabella Whitney. Meadows lives in London, working in advertising and writing fiction. She completed Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course in March 2020.

Nabugodi's non-fiction entry, "The Trembling Hand: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive" completes the shortlist. Nabugodi is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the faculty of English at Cambridge University where she researches the literary archive of Percy Bysshe Shelley. She is one of the editors of the fifth volume of The Poems of Shelley and has published articles on his poetry and translations as well as on the work of Walter Benjamin and questions of critical method.

Tóibín said: "There was a genuine excitement in finding these new voices, these different and ingenious ways of approaching narrative. What was apparent in each of the 12 longlisted writers was an energy in the way characters and events were dramatised. The settings and the forms used were various, but what was constant was a commitment to getting it right and making it new. Thus, the time I spent reading these writers of the future was enjoyable and uplifting."

The winner will be announced by Tóibín on 7th December and presented by novelist and DRF founding trustee Ian McEwan. He will also award the runners-up with £1,000 cheques. The ceremony will be available via social media and at

The DRF was set up in 2015 tribute to the late literary agent Rogers following her unexpected 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.