Selali Fiamanya has won The Borough Press' open submission competition for underrepresented writers with his debut novel, Between the Train and The Platform.
The judging panel, comprised of marketing, sales, publicity and editorial staff from HarperCollins, unanimously selected Fiamanya’s novel as the winner of a £10,000 publishing contract with The Borough Press. The novel will be published in spring 2023.
His novel follows the Scottish-Ghanaian family of Kwame, who dies unexpectedly in his youth. Together the family must confront grief, sex, culture clashes and psychosis in their struggle to find their place in the queer, diasporic Britain of today. The publisher described it as Saltwater (Hodder) meets Girl, Woman, Other (Penguin) adding "this novel about sex, identity and mental health captures a generation of change, both internal and external, and the struggle of finding one’s place in the world".
Fiamanya works as a doctor and was born and raised in Glasgow, with a couple of years spent in Accra, Ghana. He won a place on the inaugural Breakthrough Novel-Writing Course for Black Writers, run by Curtis Brown Creative and supported by Curtis Brown Literary Agency. He was also named runner-up in the 2021 Pontas & J J Bola Emerging Writers Prize.
Judges also announced Monica Cardenas' The Marriage Amendment as a runner-up to the open submissions prize.
The imprint received over 100 entries when it opened its doors to un-agented submissions from authors from lower socio-economic groups or Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds from December to March.
Editorial assistant Margot Gray, who led the open submission hunt, said: "Some writers continue to be underrepresented in publishing, and The Borough Press is hugely committed to enabling more of these voices to be heard. I instantly fell in love with Selali’s electric, immersive and profound writing, and I couldn’t be more excited to share this moving story with the world. I’m extremely proud to launch Selali’s writing career and give his stunning debut novel a home at The Borough Press."
Fiamanya added: "I'm both extremely grateful (and a bit overwhelmed) that The Borough Press chose Between the Train and the Platform for publication. It's hard to imagine that the book that's consumed my thoughts for so long will one day be out in the world! I can't wait to work with the wonderful team at Borough to take the first steps of my publishing career."
Suzie Dooré, publishing director, commented: "This open submission was first suggested by Margot, who is passionate about representation on our list, and we are all delighted with the outcome – Selali is a real talent and a very welcome addition to our list."