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Stormzy announces winners of #Merky Books writers' prize

#MERKY BOOKS WRITERS’ PRIZE: Stormzy with Hafsa Zayyan, left, and Monika Radojevic

TWO WINNERS of the first ever #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize have been announced.

Monika Radojevic and Hafsa Zayyan were both named as the inaugural beneficiaries of the new writers initiative from grime artist Stormzy’s #Merky Books imprint with Penguin Random House.

In collaboration with First Story, both writers will receive representation from The Good Literary Agency and a publishing contract with #Merky Books.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Stormzy, award-winning poet Kayo Chingonyi, celebrated writer Yrsa Daley-Ward, writer and agent Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency and Susan Sandon, managing director at Penguin Random House UK.

Over the moon with her win Radojevic says: “Winning the first #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize feels absolutely amazing, because it has shown me that people can connect with the story I have to tell. It has given me a platform for my voice to be heard in a way that I have never before experienced.”

Expressing her own joy Zayyan beamed: “Winning the New Writers’ Prize is really a dream come true − a dream I've had since I was a young child to one day have a book I’ve written be published. Having entered the competition knowing very little about the publishing industry, the New Writers’ Prize has shown me that opportunities to have your work recognised really do exist. I am so grateful − and so excited − to have been given the opportunity to tell a story that I have wanted to tell for a long time.”

Stormzy said: “Thank you for applying, because the new writers' prize is a very new thing, so I'm proud you guys had the confidence to apply. A lot of talented people don't fulfil their potential, they are so talented but they sit on it, I call it the beautiful shame. But you guys have the confidence to write, to do something about it, and that's amazing.”

Over 1,200 submissions were entered for the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, which was announced in March with the aim of promoting the stories that aren’t being heard and to find the best writer of a new generation. The prize was open to aspiring writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from the UK and Eire, aged between 16 and 30.

Sandon, managing director at PRH UK says: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, which I was truly honoured to judge, and the extremely high standard of the entries. Selecting a winner from twenty phenomenal writers was very difficult indeed, so I’m pleased and proud that we have decided on two. Hafsa Zayyan and Monika Radojevic are certainly among the best writers of a new generation, and I cannot wait to see their books come into the world.”

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