University of Michigan's Dur e Aziz Amna wins Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize

University of Michigan's Dur e Aziz Amna wins Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize

University of Michigan student Dur e Aziz Amna has won the seventh Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize for ‘Your Tongue is Still Yours'.

The 27-year-old writer is based between Rawalpindi and Ann Arbor. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan and is working on her first novel. Her winning essay will be published in the Financial Times Life & Arts section on 23rd November 2019. She will also receive £1,500 and a free e-publication in November 2019 with Bodley Head as well as a mentoring session with the imprint and the FT, along with a subscription to and a selection of books from Bodley Head.

'Your Tongue Is Still Yours' sees Dur e Aziz Amna go back to Pakistan, traversing its different regions before returning to New York, considering how language has shaped her past and how it might do the same for her children’s future.

She said: ‘"From the title itself—a hat-tip to the beloved poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz—to every anecdote I wrote about, this piece felt impossibly esoteric and private when I was writing it. So I was full of joyous disbelief when I was told about the prize, an honour that makes me both grateful and cognisant that while these are such particular concerns, they culminate in a question that occupies all of us. How do we keep alive the tongues of our childhood?"

Essays by the two runners-up will also be published as e-books by the Vintage imprint later this month: ‘Highway Three: on the road through Burma’s opium fields’ by E S Batchelor and ‘The Sacrifice: How Bolivian miners extract their wealth’ by Thomas Graham.

This year’s judges were author and FT contributing editor Simon Schama; author Helen MacDonald; Stuart Williams, publishing director at Bodley Head; Alec Russell, editor at FT Weekend along with literary agent Georgina Capel of Georgina Capel Associates.

The judges of the annual prize look for "a dynamic, authoritative and lively essay of no more than 3,500 words", Bodley Head said. It is open to open to anyone between 18 and 35 years old, aims to discover global young talent in long-form essay writing. 

Williams said of the winning entry: "This is a wonderfully lyrical, layered account of being between cultures and between languages. I found more in it every time I read it and she is a writer we’ll be hearing much more from."

FTWeekend editor Alec Russell said: "It’s one of the greatest privileges of the FTWeekend editor to read the submissions to the Bodley Head Essay Prize. This year we had an immensely strong and varied shortlist - and an outstanding winner. Longform is very much alive."