Faber has announced the winners, and signed up all four finalists, of this year's Faber & Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from under-represented backgrounds.
Mariesa Dulak won the writing prize with her picture book, There’s a Tiger on the Train!, described by the judges as “polished, funny, visual, current and clever”. They said: “There is a visual energy and pace to the writing that put us in mind of the very best picture book writers in the business.”
Janelle McCurdy was awarded second place for her “thrilling” middle-grade fantasy adventure, Umbra Tales: The Lightcasters.
Faber has pre-empted world rights for three picture books by Dulak from Gill McLay at the Bath Literary Agency. McCurdy’s debut novel was also secured at auction by Faber for UK, Commonwealth and translation rights from Rachel Mann at Jo Unwin Ltd.
Ngadi Smart, who was awarded first place for the illustration prize, is motivated by the representation of minorities, cultural identity and gender roles. Judges described her submission as “wonderfully arresting portraits with an astonishing degree of dynamism and energy to both the figures themselves and the vibrant spaces they inhabit”.
Akhran Girmay, a Bristol-based illustrator who uses a mixture of fantasy and folk tales within his art, was awarded second place.
Both illustration winners have been signed for upcoming publications with Faber. Smart will illustrate Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 25 Songs by author and educator Jeffrey Boakye. Girmay is set to illustrate a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely‘s YA novel, All American Boys.
Leah Thaxton, publisher, said: "This has been a phenomenal fourth year for the FAB Prize and the calibre and number of entries has been higher than ever. My belief is that over time the FAB Prize will be identified first and foremost with excellence, not diversity – it will have identified writers with exceptional voices who will go on to advocate and influence the politics of publishing. And illustrators who will themselves influence publishing decisions, because they are every bit as powerful as the authors they illustrate. This is a prize that identifies the creatives who will go on to change the way the world sees itself.
“We are over the moon to have secured publishing deals for all four winners – the first time in our history that we have done so. They have exceptional careers ahead of them: Mariesa Dulak, Janelle McCurdy, Ngadi Smart, Akhran Girmay. Look out for these names, get used to them, they are going to be big.”
The FAB prize is run in association with the Andlyn Literary Agency, and is also supported by BookTrust and The Association of Illustrators (AOI). Davinia Andrew-Lynch, founder of the Andlyn Literary Agency and judge of the FAB Prize, has also signed Adam Douglas-Bagley, who was commended for illustration in this year’s prize.