New Writers Award presented to talented Scottish writers, including two of Asian background
Image by Scottish Book Trust
Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives with reading and writing, announced the 2023 New Writers Awardees – recipients of a prestigious year-long writer development programme which includes mentorship, a bursary, and opportunities to showcase work to publishing industry professionals.
There were in total 11 writers on this year’s programme, including two writing in the Scots language and two in Gaelic. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the Callan Gordon Award, a place on the programme which is awarded in memory of Callan Gordon, a young Scottish writer, and funded by the Gordon family.
This year’s cohort comprised of two talented writers of Asian heritage alongside others who have made a mark for themselves through their work, including young adult fiction writer Sonali Misra; children’s writer Henry Coles; poets Medha Singh, Robbie MacLeòid, Craig Aitchison and Eloise Birtwhistle; spoken word performer Oliver Robertson; and fiction writers Hannah McDonald, Alessandra Thom, Dòmhnall Eòghainn MacKinnon and Dervla Johanna.
Previous awardees include Booker Prize winner Graeme Macrae Burnet; bestselling author of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman; and acclaimed writers Kirstin Innes, Rachelle Atella and Sarah Smith. Applications for next year’s New Writers Awards will open at the end of May.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “This year’s cohort of New Writers Awardees showcase some of the best new writing talent in Scotland. We’re excited to support them on the next stage of their writing journeys to help them develop and hone their skills further.”
Alan Bett, Head of Literature & Publishing at Creative Scotland, said, “Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Awards continues to launch fresh and inspiring voices into professional writing, supporting them every step of the way.
“We’re excited to see the future of Scottish literature emerge from this list and, eventually, onto bookshop shelves. The list of successful authors and poets to have come through New Writers is testament to the success of the programme, helping them develop their creative work and navigate the professional challenges of these early career stages. We wish them all success.”
Alison Lang, Director of Gaelic Books Council, said, “We are pleased to be working with Scottish Book Trust once again to offer this valuable opportunity to two writers to develop their work. The New Writers Award has given many writers a head start in their careers, and we hope it won’t be long before we see Robbie MacLeòid’s poetry and Dòmhnall Eòghainn MacKinnon’s short stories in print.”
Medha Singh is a poet, translator, and editor. She is editor of Berfrois, London. She has published a work of translation, a collection of love letters that she translated from the French, penned by Indian modernist painter Sayed Haider Raza during his time in France, I Will Bring My Time: Love Letters by S.H. Raza (Vadehra Art Gallery, 2020).
Her work has appeared in Almost Island, Hotel, Berfrois, Interpret, 3:AM, Indian Quarterly, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Poetry at Sangam, The Charles River Journal among others. Her work has been anthologized in Singing in the Dark (Penguin, 2020), The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction (Hachette, 2021), Contemporary Indian Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi, 2020), Best Indian Poetry 2018 (RLFPA editions), Divining Dante (Recent Work Press, 2021) Future Library: Contemporary Indian Writing (Red Hen Press, 2022), Converse: Contemporary English Poetry by Indians (Penguin Random House, 2022); The Best Asian Poetry (Kitaab, 2022).
Her work has also been translated into Hindi, Spanish and French. Her interviews have appeared on the website of The Pablo Neruda Foundation, Chile; NERObooks, Boston; POV, Denmark, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, London and JCAM, Massachusettes. among others. Medha was longlisted for the Toto Funds the Arts Awards (India) in 2019 and 2020. She took her MSc in Creative Writing from the Uni of Edinburgh. Her collection of poems is forthcoming.
Singh said, “I am grateful to Scottish Book Trust and the judges of the New Writers Award for choosing my entry among the horde of talented writers I know to freckle the ebullient and plentiful world of Scottish arts and letters.”
Sonali Misra’s life revolves around stories. She’s been a reader, performer, student of literature and creative writing, editor and product manager in the publishing industry, literary magazine co-founder, PhD Researcher in publishing, and author.
Born and raised in Delhi, India, Sonali’s short prose has appeared in Scottish, Canadian and Indian anthologies. Her nonfiction book, 21 Fantastic Failures: and what their stories teach us, was published in 2020. She’s won writing awards at University, a spot on Gothenburg’s UNESCO City of Literature writing residency, and The National Library of Scotland’s Fresh Ink prize. Due to the latter, her personal essay was added to the Library archives. It was also shortlisted for the Anne Brown Prize by Wigtown Book Festival and the BBC.
Supporting others in the literature sector is key for Sonali. She’s done so as the Co-founder of The Selkie Publications CIC, an international literary magazine that publishes and promotes minoritised voices, and formerly as the Co-chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland and member of the Writers’ Advisory Group of Literature Alliance Scotland.
Currently completing her YA political adventure fantasy novel ‘Aasra’, the first in a trilogy, Sonali aims to showcase fun fast-paced yet important Indian genre writing on the international stage.
Misra said, “I got the news about winning the Award on a tough day, one I spent at hospital with my father, who’s undergoing chemotherapy in India. He knows I’ve been applying to this Award for a couple years, and he’s proud of my writing but also my perseverance. I won’t win anything if I never apply, and I’m thrilled my efforts paid off!”