Stormzy launches second year of #Merky Books writing prize

Stormzy has said he hopes authors who do not have “an outlet or a means to get their work seen” will take inspiration from his publishing imprint as he launched the second year of the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize.

The prize aims to discover unpublished, under-represented writers aged 16-30 from the UK and Ireland and the winner or winners will receive a publishing contract with #Merky Books, an imprint within Penguin Random House UK.

The winning entry will be selected by a panel of judges including Stormzy, authors Candice Brathwaite and Emma Dabiri, Man Like Mobeen star and creator Guz Khan and Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Thompson File Photo
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is on the panel (Mike Egerton/PA)

Stormzy said: “I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen and hopefully #Merky Books can now be a reference point for them to say ‘I can be an author’ and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal.

“Reading and writing as a kid was integral to where I am today and I from the bottom of my heart cannot wait to hear your stories and get them out into the big wide world.”

Longlisted writers will be invited to a writers’ camp where they will be able to meet literary agents and bestselling authors, learn more about the publishing process through panel talks and workshops, receive personalised one-to-one feedback from Penguin Random House UK editors, and meet the #Merky Books team.

During its inaugural year in 2019, the competition received more than 1200 fiction, non-fiction and poetry submissions from young, unpublished writers.

Hafsa Zayyan and Monika Radojevic were announced as winners in June 2019 and the imprint will publish Zayyan’s novel We Are All Birds Of Uganda in January 2021 and Radojevic’s poetry collection Teeth in the Back of My Neck in May 2021.

The longlist will be announced on December 14, the shortlist on February 5 2021, and the winner in March 2021.

As well as the publishing contract, the winner will also win the chance write a Literally essay to feature on WePresent in spring 2021.

Entries can be submitted via online portal and applications are open from September 14 until October 30.