Stormzy’s #Merky Books scores first major award nomination

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

Stormzy’s #Merky Books has secured a spot on the longlist for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu is the first book published on the rapper’s imprint to be nominated for a major award.

Named after the literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, the annual £10,000 prize goes to a first novel written in English and published in the UK.

That Reminds Me uses poetry and verse to tackle poverty, addiction, self-harm and love for one’s family, and is the north London writer and podcaster’s first novel.

Stormzy launched #Merky Books, a collaboration with Penguin Random House, in July 2018.

It is due to publish the autobiography of Malorie Blackman, the author of the Noughts And Crosses books, in 2022.

Among the other longlistees are The Keeper by Jessica Moor, The Parisian by Isabella Hammad and The Art Of The Body by Alex Allison.

Malorie Blackman (Ian West/PA)

Preti Taneja, who chairs the judging panel and won the 2018 prize, said: “Each book on the Desmond Elliot Prize 2020 longlist has earned its place for its love of language, its crafting of a sentence: for its approach to its subject matter and its creation of complex characters and an immersive world.

“That world might be full of terrors, the potential of love or exist in the past, recognisable present or longed-for future – the list has all of these.

“It is excellent to see that it reflects the range and depth of current concerns – that this group of debut writers are as clear-eyed, and as passionate and political as our times demand.

“There are 10 names here that many readers will not have encountered yet, and that is what makes the Desmond Elliot Prize 2020 unique.

“As a judging panel we now have an exciting challenge to choose a shortlist of three and a winner, and we are very proud to begin with this longlist.”

The winner will be announced on July 2.