Mirza Waheed Among 48 Writers Awarded SoA Grant

Srinagar: Kashmiri novelist Mirza Waheed is among 48 writers who have bagged a grant worth more than £ 185,000, (Aprox Rs 1,82,03,820) from The Society of Authors. The grant is awarded to enable writers to complete works in progress including queer auto-fiction, forgotten histories, and books about post-colonial and the natural world.

The grants totalling £185,750 will support writers by either buying them time to write or helping with research costs. For one writer, their grant represents the opportunity to follow “in my anarchist great-great-grandmother’s footsteps” in Ireland and Georgia as part of research for an intimate group biography.

Each year the SoA awards over £370,000 in grants as part of the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust to support writers with their works in progress and “bring exciting new work into the world” from a range of genres and styles, at all stages of literary careers. The grants enable writers to focus on their work without the pressures of financial or time constraints.

Among this year’s recipients are authors Lauren John Joseph, for whom the grant will allow them to complete queer auto-fiction At Certain Points We Touch, exploring the early death of a close friend; Njambi McGrath, a comedian redrafting her book The Residents of the Ministry of Works, inspired by her experiences as a teen in post-colonial Kenya; T Hannah Regel, completing her first novel, a fictionalised encounter with the work of a forgotten ceramicist, based on an archive held in the Women’s Art Library in Goldsmiths College; Alasdair Soussi, working on his biography of Scottish artist James McBey; Lydia Syson, who is writing a biography of three generations of radical mothers and daughters in her family; and Mirza Waheed, whose current novel is about a precipitously transforming natural world and our place in it.

The deadlines for applications to the SoA 2021 rounds of grants for work in progress are 1st February, for distribution in May, and 1st July, for distribution in October.

As Covid-19 continues to impact incomes, the organisaton is still distributing hardship grants to authors in financial crisis from the Authors’ Contingency Fund.

‘… couldn’t have come at a better time”

“My current novel is about a precipitously transforming natural world and our place in it. It’s also a book about children. I’m very grateful to receive this grant from the Society of Authors, as it will allow me time and freedom to work uninterrupted on the book. It couldn’t have come at a better time. A big thank you,” said Mirza Waheed reacting to the announcement.

Waheed was born and brought up in downtown Srinagar. His debut novel, The Collaborator, was an international bestseller, a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhat Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

His second novel, The Book of Gold Leaves, was published in 2014 to critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016, longlisted for the Folio Prize, and was a finalist for the 2015 Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year (Fiction).

Mirza began his writing career with the Kashmir Observer and later on moved to BBC. He also contributed to Guardian, Granta, Guernica, Al Jazeera English, and The New York Times. Waheed’s last novel Tell Her Everything was nominated for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 and Tata Literature Live Book of the Year. It will be published in France early next year. Tell Her Everything won the Hindu Prize for Fiction 2019.

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