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Announcing the 2018 FAB Prize Winners

The Winners
Faber Children’s and the Andlyn Agency are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize for Undiscovered BAME writers and illustrators. Former entrant Reba Khatun is the first prize winner for writing, and illustration student Yu-Hua Lo has won the first prize for Illustration.

This year the original judges – Leah Thaxton, Davinia Andrew-Lynch, Emma Eldridge and Donna Payne – were joined by author-illustrator Nadia Shireen and author Smriti Prasadam-Halls.

Reba Khatun, whose short work has been selected for other publications since the FAB Prize, won with her middle grade novel Made in Bangladesh. The judges described it as ‘a powerful and immediate piece of storytelling, vibrating with truth and rooted in a familiar context of family. We felt Reba was a writer who showed tremendous promise, originality and versatility’.

Yu-Hua Lo, currently studying Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, won the illustration prize with her picture book Pepe Wants to Fly. The judges said: ‘The decision was unanimous that Yu-Hua should be our first place winner. Her character, Pepe the mole, is adorable, perfectly rendered in soft pencil. She uses a beautiful soft limited colour palette with clever and varied compositions, often playing with scale, keeping the reader engaged. It is pitch-perfect.’

The Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize launched in December 2016 as a joint initiative between Faber Children’s and the Andlyn Agency with the purpose of helping discover new writers and illustrators from BAME backgrounds, and to provide a year-long mentoring scheme for one author and one illustrator.

For writing, the second prize was Maliha Basak with Rumbumble, a middle grade adventure story. Malisa has worked on CBBC’s Hey Dugee! and was recently awarded a PHD studentship at Canterbury Christ Church University. On Rumbumble the judges said: ‘witty, idiosyncratic, confident – a writer that knows how to appeal to children’s sense of crazy, and to cater for those with a short attention span and the jaded!’

The second prize for illustration was awarded to Allen Fatimaharan, a recent graduate from Central St Martins with an MA in Character Animation, who submitted a portfolio of different work. The judges added: ‘Allen’s work is accomplished and versatile. His illustration, which often uses strong fluid lines, looks dramatic in colour or black and white. He shows skill in character development and storyboarding, no doubt owing to his animation background.’

The first prize winners will receive £500 plus a year of mentoring with Faber and Andlyn, and the second prizes will have a consultation meeting to discuss their work.

The judges have also selected a list of Highly Commended and Commended entries, who will also be invited to the prize celebration in July, where their work will be available for press and agents to view.



Where are they now?
Following the closing this year’s competition, Faber and Andlyn checked in with last year’s winners and commended entries to see how they’d fared in the year since the competition.
Faber themselves made one signing from the competition, picture book My Hair from Hannah Lee. But numerous other winners, as well as Highly Commended and Commended entries, have been involved in a myriad of exciting projects since.
The winner of the writing prize, Rohan Agalawatta, has signed with agent Ben Illis at BIA, and Highly Commended author Kereen Getten is represent by Alice Sutherland-Hawes at Madeleine Milburn. Commended author Yvonne Battle-Felton has signed with Elise Dillsworth at the Elise Dillsworth Agency, confirmed a book deal with Dialogue Books and won the New Writing North’s Northern Writers Award for Fiction 2017. 
Highly Commended author Aisha Bushby, who also contributed to A Change is Gonna Come, has signed a two book deal with Egmont. Avantika Taneja, another Highly Commended author, has been writing short story commissions for BBC Schools Radio.
Outside of the children’s world, Commended author Paveen Ahmed was a story assistant for the ITV Drama Girlfriends, Commended author Casey Elisha has adapted her book Love Thy Fro into a musical, which will be performed at Theatre Peckham this October, and Highly Commended author Muj Shah credits the FAB prize with giving him renewed confidence in his writing. He has since been writing and developing a new TV show, inspired by an idea he’d had for one of his novels.
On the illustration side, Poonam Mistry, a Commended illustrator, has signed with Alice Sutherland-Hawes, and her first picture book You’re Safe With Me, was published by Lantana Publishing in May. Highly Commended illustrator Olivia Duchess created a book cover for HarperCollins, and has also illustrated a book for LifeWay.

Numerous entrants commented on how much they valued the network of writers and illustrators built up through entering the FAB prize – each supporting each others’ endeavours.

Leah Thaxton, Children’s Publisher at Faber & Faber, says:

‘We are delighted to see how all our winners are faring a year on, and very, very proud of the instances in which authors and illustrators have credited the FAB prize with boosting their confidence and inspiring their creativity. I am particularly thrilled that the FAB Prize has helped create a support network for all winners, including all the Commended and Highly Commended authors and illustrators – as mentoring and support is such a vital part of what can be a long and lonely creative process. Literary and commercial success never, ever comes easy!’