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Manc writer wins Stormzy-backed New Writers’ Prize 2024

Mancunian writer Sufiyaan Salam has won the New Writers' Prize 2024.
Sufiyaan Salam New Writer's Prize 2024

#Merky Books, set up by world-renowned rapped Stormzy, has awarded Sufiyaan Salam the New Writers’ Prize 2024 for their incredible submission, Wimmy Road Boyz.

Now in its fifth year, the prize aims to discover unpublished, underrepresented writers aged 18-35 from the UK and Ireland.

The New Writers’ Prize 2024

The winner is awarded a publishing contract with Stormzy’s publishing imprint #Merky Books at Penguin Random House UK.

Stormzy announced the winner at a special award ceremony held at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road on Saturday 24th February.

Sufiyaan Salam

Salam, 26, is a Manchester-based writer who works across various mediums including screen, theatre and prose.

Set over the course of a single, surreal night, Salam’s winning submission, Wimmy Road Boyz, follows three men in their early twenties who drive up and down Manchester’s Curry Mile, bringing all of their baggage with them.

In pursuit of a wild time, these boys don’t yet know that their first night out in so long will also be their last. . .

A blistering debut novel wins New Writers’ Prize 2024

In this blistering debut novel, Salam explores heartbreak, masculinity, friendship, faith, class and the unceasing chaos of a Tory Britain.

Sufiyaan Salam said: “It’s still sinking in, but wow — I’m beyond excited to be given the opportunity to have my work published with Penguin!

“Having met the talented writers on the shortlist, I know just how fierce the competition was. I’ve been trying to write for as long as I can remember and I’m committed to making work that’s interesting, has something to say and is — even better — fun.

“Growing up in Blackburn, it was easy to think this kinda thing wouldn’t happen for someone like me. Shout out to the whole #Merky team, all the judges, and the ‘writer’s camp’ group chat!”

5th anniversary of #Merky Books

To celebrate the fifth year of #Merky Books, this year the prize focussed on fiction and had a record-breaking 800 fiction submissions.

Longlisted writers were invited to a writers’ camp, where they learnt about the publishing process through panel talks and workshops, received personalised one-to-one feedback from industry editors and met the #Merky Books team.

The panel of judges included British musician and #Merky Books founder Stormzy, award winning writer and poet Derek Owusu, Women’s Prize shortlisted author of Fire Rush Jacqueline Crooks, author, journalist and TV presenter Candice Brathwaite and Senior Policy Advisor and Co-Director of Roundtable books, Jasmina Bidé.

Previous winners of the prize include Hafsa Zayyan, author of We Are All Birds of Uganda and Monika Radojevic, whose collection Teeth in the Back of My Neck was published in 2021 and whose second work, a short story collection, will be published by #Merky Books in 2025, Jyoti Patel, who was selected as one of 2023’s Best Debut Novelists by the Observer and whose novel The Things That We Lost was published in January 2023. Also published in 2025 is Sunstruck, a debut novel by the 2023 winner, Will Hunter.

Stormzy on Sufiyaan Salam

Stormzy said: “Excited to announce Sufiyaan as this year’s winner of the prize. I loved Wimmy Road Boyz and I can’t wait to read more.”

Jasmina Bidé said: “I absolutely loved the writing, the story and the characters. With each reread, I uncovered another gem.”

Jacqueline Crooks said: “The energy of Salam’s work was beyond. The writing was dazzling in its daring and reach. I didn’t know where the writing was taking me and I loved this, I wanted to join the man-dem in their journey through the night.”

Helen Conford, Publisher for Hutchinson Heinemann, Cornerstone Press and #Merky Books said: “This was an incredibly strong year for submissions and reading the work of these writers was an incredibly humbling and invigorating experience for all involved. It has been very hard to choose a winner from a such a strong shortlist. We all hope that many a career will be encouraged as a result.”

You can catch Sufiyaan on Twitter by clicking here

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