Faber Children’s and the Andlyn Agency celebrated the winners of the inaugural FAB Prize for BAME writers and illustrators last night (26th June) and revealed it will run again next year.
The joint initiative between the publisher and literary agency was launched in December to discover and nuture new writers and illustrators from BAME backgrounds. Judges included Davinia Andrew-Lynch, founder of the Andlyn Literary Agency, and three Faber members of staff: children’s publisher Leah Thaxton, creative director Donna Payne and art director Emma Eldridge.
Thaxton said in her speech which kicked off the ceremony: “We ran the prize because we felt there was a lot of untapped talent that needed to be showcased and all of you who entered proved us right.
“In publishing we never do anything twice…because the margins are much too tight but I can say that we are going to run this prize again. I don’t just say that altruistically, I think it’s important commercially and in terms of talent pool we know this is the right thing to do.”
Andrew- Lynch told The Bookseller that the mentoring offered in the prize convinced her to become involved with the scheme.
She said: “When Leah got in touch and said she wanted to run this prize and offer [ongoing] support rather than just prizes which was just the sort of thing I wanted. It’s very important because there are very, very few books within the children’s market from people of colour or different ethnicities or different backgrounds.
“This proves that there is plenty of talent out there and for many reasons, social or political reasons they feel that this is not a world that they can enter but we want to say, ‘it really is’.”
She added: “It has been a great opportunity and I’m glad that we’re running it again next year.”
Thaxton told the winner of the writing prize, Rohan Agalawatta, that she “absolutely loved” his entry The Monster Orphanage and thought it was “incredibly publishable” and that she had “fallen in love” with the deadpan talking yeti character.
Second place went to Ramsey Hassan “fun, moving and pitch-perfect” Sanctuary about the author's own experience of coming to the UK as an asylum seeker.
The judges and winners: (from left) Davinia Andrew-lynch, Leah Thaxton, Lucy Farfort, Donna Payne, Ramsey Hassan, Emma Eldridge and Rohan Agalawatta
The first prize winner for illustration was a collection of illustrations by Lucy Farfort, “a sumptuous reimagining of familiar traditional fairytales” while Cindy Chang won second prize for illustration with her picture book Bear's Hat, which the judges described as having “a gentle, magical colour palette moderated by strong, confident lines and a lovely sense of movement”.
The first prize winners will receive £500 plus a year of mentoring with Faber and Andlyn, and the second prizes will have a consultation meeting to discuss their work.
In addition, the judges have selected a list of Highly Commended and Commended entries, who will also be invited to the prize celebration at a later date, where their work will be available for press and agents to view.
The winners were revealed earlier this month.