Lui Sit and Suhayla Ibrahim are the first place winners of this year’s Faber and Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from underrepresented backgrounds. The first of its kind in the UK, and now in its sixth year, the FAB Prize aims to discover and showcase new talent, closing the gap between what is currently published and the reality for many families.
Sui won the text prize for Puffin and the Legend of Linger Island, described by the judges as ‘perfectly pitched for young readers, with a lead character who is charming, determined and fun. Lui’s storytelling is a joy’. First place illustration winner, Suhayla Ibrahim submitted a selection of illustrations, which the judges described as having ‘such freshness and vibrant use of colour, reminiscent of that of Lucy Cousins and Neal Layton’.
Second place for the text prize was jointly awarded to Hannah Ekekwe and Shireen Lalji. The judges commented that Hannah was ‘certainly a name to watch out for in the Teen/YA market going forward’. Of Shireen’s picture book submission, the judges praised its ‘heart-warming and impactful conceit, executed with a joyful lightness of touch’.
Qianhui Yu’s submission, awarded second place for the illustration prize, stood out for its ‘surrealist quality’ helping the judges to imagine Qianhui’s work ‘in both iconic picture books as well as young adult fiction’.
Ama Badu, FAB Prize judge said: ‘It was such a pleasure to read through this year’s entries. They were enchanting, energetic and engaging. Even the entries that didn’t make the shortlist were interesting forms of escapism. I think this nods to something hopeful and encouraging. It is moving to see so many new writers and illustrators of colour lean into fun and lighter conversations, even when exploring difficult themes.’
Mo Hafeez, FAB Prize judge said: ‘The sheer range of entries to this year’s FAB Prize was wonderful to behold. Whether I was whisked away to fantastical worlds or invited into homes and families to discover new perspectives and experiences, every writer and illustrator should be immensely proud of their work. I very much look forward to seeing what each of them go on to achieve in the years to come.’
Text and illustration winners will be awarded £1500 each and various opportunities including a free place on a Faber Academy writing course, a one-year portfolio membership from the AOI, a place on a publishing insights programme and the opportunity to shadow established authors and illustrators via BookTrust. The runners-up for both prizes are also awarded £500 each (£250 each for the joint text runners-up).
The FAB Prize is run by Faber 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.
Since its launch, the FAB Prize website, a hub for aspiring writers, illustrators and publishing professionals, now features interviews with an incredible roster of talented creatives such as New York Times bestselling author Namina Forna, Costa Award winner Ingrid Persaud, Jeffrey Boakye, Annabelle Sami, Shirley Marr and many more.
2022 FAB PRIZE WINNERS AND RUNNERS-UP
Text 1st Place: Lui Sit writes short stories, memoirs, non-fiction and children’s middle grade. She is an alumnus of several development schemes including Megaphone, A Brief Pause, the London Writers Award and WriteNow. Her short stories are published online and in print. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Murdoch University and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University.
Text 2nd Place: Hannah Ekekwe is a British-Nigerian writer with a particular love of queer, Black and African stories. She was a mentee in the inaugural All Stories writing program, a 2022 Golden Egg Award runner-up and is a current Scottish BookTrust school visit mentee.
Shireen Lalji is a primary school teacher and senior leader in Tower Hamlets, London. Her family is Indian but settled in Tanzania. Shireen grew up in the UK and Canada with a mix of cultures and was fortunate to
grow up in a big Indian family like the one in her story. She lives with her husband, daughter and son (who loves skirts!) in London.
Illustration 1st Place: Suhayla Ibrahim is a London-based illustrator who was born in Britain of Sudanese heritage. She has been working for two years on children’s illustrations. This is something that she is extremely passionate about. Suhayla’s work centres around animals and humans and she has many stories to bring to young readers.
Illustration 2nd Place: Qianhui Yu is a London-based Chinese illustrator and animation director. She specialises in creating immersive worlds inhabited by unique characters. She aims to develop cinematic, emotional and unique storytelling that captivates viewers’ attention. She enjoys working with children’s publishing, music and cultural projects.
A full list of all winners 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:
First Place Text Winner: Lui Sit
Joint Second Place Text Winners: Hannah Ekekwe and Shireen Lalji
Publisher’s Prize Winners: Gayathiri Kamalakanthan and Nazima Corne Pathan
Highly Commended Winners: Anne Elicaño-Shields, Bibi Anisah Mohamoodally, Iqbal Hussain, Kenechi Udogu, Mayo Agard-Olubo, Shivanthi Sathanandan, Srividya Karthik and Zareena Subhani
Commended Winners: Abimbola Fashola, Alka Handa, Cabbi Charles, Erica Jo Kingsley, Felicity Yeoh, Leonie Annor-Owiredu, Nash Colundalur, Samantha Robertson, Shana Byfield, Steven Gosling, Umera Smith
First Place Illustration Winner: Suhayla Ibrahim
Second Place Illustration Winner: Qianhui Yu
Highly Commended Illustration Winners: Debora Adachi, India Joseph, Janet Tam, Li-Yi Huang, Moonlie Fong-Whittaker, Suleeko Abdi, Xinyi Bi, Zaleha Othman
Commended Illustration Winners: Huong Nguyen, Thalamus Plank, Yuqiao Zheng
Photo Credit: Helen Warrick Photography