News: FAB Prize 2020 Winners Announced

Mariesa Dulak and Ngadi Smart are this year’s first place winners of the Faber and Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from underrepresented backgrounds.

Mariesa Dulak won the writing prize with her picture book, There’s a Tiger on the Train!, described by the judges as ‘polished, funny, visual, current and clever. There is a visual energy and pace to the writing that put us in mind of the very best picture book writers in the business’. Janelle McCurdy was awarded second place for her thrilling middle-grade fantasy adventure, Umbra Tales: The Lightcasters.

Faber have pre-empted world rights for three picture books by Mariesa Dulak from Gill McLay at Bath Literary Agency. Janelle McCurdy’s debut novel was also secured at auction by Faber for UK, Commonwealth and translation rights from Rachel Mann at Jo Unwin Literary Agency.

Ngadi Smart, who was awarded first place for the illustration prize, is motivated by the representation of minorities, cultural identity and gender roles within her art. Judges described her submission as ‘wonderfully arresting portraits with an astonishing degree of dynamism and energy to both the figures themselves and the vibrant spaces they inhabit. We love the effervescent colour palette and know Ngadi has a big future ahead of her’.

Akhran Girmay, a Bristol-based illustrator who uses a mixture of fantasy and folktales within his illustrations, was awarded second place for the illustration prize. Both illustration winners have been signed for upcoming publications with Faber. Smart will illustrate the hotly anticipated Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 25 Songs by author and educator Jeffrey Boakye. Akhran is set to illustrate a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely‘s bestselling YA novel, All American Boys.

Leah Thaxton, Publisher said: ‘This has been a phenomenal fourth year for the FAB Prize and the calibre and number of entries has been higher than ever. My belief is that over time the FAB Prize will be identified first and foremost with excellence, not diversity – it will have identified writers with exceptional voices who will go on to advocate and influence the politics of publishing. And illustrators who will themselves influence publishing decisions, because they are every bit as powerful as the authors they illustrate. This is a prize that identifies the creatives who will go on to change the way the world sees itself.’

‘We are over the moon to have secured publishing deals for all four winners – the first time in our history that we have done so. They have exceptional careers ahead of them: Mariesa Dulak, Janelle McCurdy, Ngadi Smart, Akhran Girmay. Look out for these names, get used to them, they are going to be big!’

The FAB Prize is run in association with the Andlyn Literary Agency, and is also supported by BookTrust and The AOI who both offer incredible opportunities to FAB Prize entrants and winners. Davinia Andrew-Lynch, founder of the Andlyn Literary Agency and judge of the FAB Prize has also signed Adam Douglas-Bagley, who was commended for illustration in this year’s prize.

This year saw the prize receive its highest intake yet and the introduction of an additional Publisher’s Prize. John Seaton has been a champion of the FAB Prize and Creative Access internships at Faber for a number of years. In honour of his late wife, Mo Siewcharran, the Publisher’s Prize has been set up to highlight those entrants whose work stood out for mention alongside the winners.

A full list of winners, highly commended, commended and Publisher’s Prize recipients is below.

You can download the FAB Prize Booklet, with samples of the illustrations and text from all shortlistees here.

Watch the FAB Prize Ceremony:

Text Winners

First Prize: Mariesa Dulak

Second Prize: Janelle McCurdy

©Dujonna Gift-Simms

Highly Commended:

Farhana Islam, Rachel Faturoti, Ravena Guron, Sumana Seeboruth, Tiffany Chan, Tola Okogwu, Varsha Shah


Afroze Zaidi, Beatrice Anobah, Devyani Erica Jo Kingsley, Joanna Brown, Kothari, Olivia Carla Mejias, Shivanthi Sathanandan, Zain Dada

Mo Siewcharran Publisher’s Prize:

Amanda Carey, Aryah Bukhari, Carmen Morris-Coulson, Habon Jama, Nilesha Chauvet, Olive AhmedPam Aculey, Pamela Kandekore, Rebecca Ngakane, Rae LevineSarah Shantikumar, Sophia Wilson, Seema McArdle, Tomi Oyemakinde

Illustration Winners

First Prize: Ngadi Smart

Second Prize: Akhran Girmay

Highly Commended:

Joanna Ghosh, Julied Mustard, Lucia Picerno, Olivia Duchess, Shirley Hottier, Sojung Kim-McCarthy, Su Jang Jang, Yijing Li, Zhi Ling Lee


Abeeha Tariq, Adam Douglas-Bagley, Aneesa Cassimjee, Chi He, India Joseph, Jisun Lee, Yabaewah Scott

Mo Siewcharran Publisher’s Prize:

Adeola Avomolo, An Chi Chang, Janet Tam, Jayna Matharu, Lijie Zhang, Nino Ferrao, Sonia Aguera Gonzalez, Soumya Basnet, Subeeh Baig, Subi Bosa, Sumi Senthi, Yve Muller