Deb wins Avon x Mushens Entertainment Prize

Deb wins Avon x Mushens Entertainment Prize

Mimi Deb has won the Avon x Mushens Entertainment Prize for Ben & Gia.

The prize, which launched in January, was open to submissions from unagented, unpublished writers of colour across the UK. As the winner, Deb will receive a two-book deal with the HarperCollins division, a grant to support her writing career, and representation from Mushens Entertainment.

Her winning entry follows Gia, an immigrant, as she navigates the politics of work, love and friendship in London, and the unlikely bond she develops with Ben, the manager of a small restaurant, who sends her notes taped to takeaway boxes.

The award was judged by the Avon editorial team and literary agent Silé Edwards from Mushens Entertainment, along with author and guest judge Imran Mahmood.

Deb said she was "delighted" Avon will be the home for her debut novel, adding: "Writing this gave me my daily shot of escapism during the pandemic, and I’m so grateful to Cara Chimirri and the team at Avon, Silé Edwards and Imran Mahmood for believing in the story, and me."

Edwards said she was "thrilled" with the winner: "Ben & Gia is a wonderfully swoony love story underpinned by a strong discussion about the impact of a single moment, belonging and second chances. I am delighted that Mimi accepted my offer of representation as part of the prize, and I cannot wait to work with her on this and all of her future novels."

Mahmood added: "Many congratulations to Mimi, the winner of this amazing prize. Ben & Gia had all the hallmarks of success for me — great writing, fantastic hook and bags of originality. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves."

Cara Chimirri, senior commissioning editor at Avon, said: "Choosing a winner from such an incredible shortlist was such a difficult task. But Mimi’s wonderful novel truly shone, with such vivid, complex characters and a simply brilliant hook that I know will capture readers’ imaginations as it has mine!"