Pemi Aguda Wins 2020 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

Pemi Aguda has emerged winner of the 2020 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award for The Suicide Mothers, a work of fiction.

Ian Rankin OBE (Chair of the Judges) introduced the shortlisted authors and then announced the winner who will receive the prize of £10,000.

In second place was Stephen Buoro for The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa and in third place S. Bhattacharya-Woodward for Zolo and Other Stories. Both titles are works of fiction.  The authors will each receive £1,000.

Ian Rankin, Sarah Perry and Max Porter, the judges of the 2020 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award, made their shortlist selection from a longlist of eight. This longlist was chosen by agents within Rogers Coleridge & White, after reading 876 entries.

Pemi Aguda is a Nigerian writer, architect, and podcast host. She has an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, where she is currently a Zell Fellow. Her short stories appear in Granta, American Short Fiction and Zoetrope: All-Story, among others.

According to Ian Rankin, Chair of the Judges:

“We had a longlist of eight from which to choose. All eight had their strengths. We encountered a series of unique and powerful authorial voices from many corners of the globe. As a reader I found myself challenged, enthralled, amused and given fresh insights into the casts of characters and their individual worldscapes.

There must, however, be winners. And in third place we selected ZOLO AND OTHER STORIES by S.Bhattacharya-Woodward. These short stories were humane, quirky and moving. They look with intensity at contemporary urban life, focussing on the good as well as the bad.

In second place we chose THE FIVE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES OF ANDY AFRICA by Stephen Buoro. This novel exudes a wonderfully vivid sense of place and leads the reader inside the head of its teenage hero as he sets off to locate his “real” mother. It’s a narrative of depth that also manages to be instantly engaging.

And to our winner: first prize goes to ‘Pemi Aguda for THE SUICIDE MOTHERS. This novel begins with a real wow moment and sustains momentum as it draws us into a world that is utterly contemporary yet has room for the mythic and the supernatural. The politics of Lagos, environmental concerns and the coming of age of the young and pregnant protagonist make for a wonderfully kinetic and gripping story.

It was a pleasure to read all the longlisted works. My congratulations go to the entrants and especially the three prizewinners.  I don’t doubt that the whole longlist has a bright future in literary endeavour, and I congratulate them.”

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