Derek Owusu’s Recommended Reading List Would Launch the Desmond Elliott Prize for 2021

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) has opened submissions for the 2021 Desmond Elliott Prize — Of which Derek Owusu won in 2020. The NCW now runs as the flagship in its Early Career Awards portfolio.

To mark the occasion, the NCW has released a reading list of 10 titles chosen by 2020 winner, Derek Owusu, to be donated by the NCW to Aylward Academy as part of an initiative to inspire pupils and further increase the reach of the Desmond Elliott Prize.


The ten titles are chosen by Derek Owusu

  • A Man of The People by Chinua Achebe
  • Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené
  • Mask Off by JJ Bola
  • The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward
  • Invisible Man-by Ralph Ellison
  • The 392 by Ashley Hickson-Lovence
  • The Scholar-by Courttia Newland
  • The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine

The titles he has chosen have been donated by the Prize to Derek’s former school.


Who is Derek Owusu

Derek Owusu
Derek Owusu

Derek Owusu won the Desmond Elliot Prize in 2020 for his debut novel, That Reminds Me, which was published by Stormzy’s #Merky Books imprint. He chose to donate the books to Aylward Academy in north London which he attended as a pupil. The titles have been purchased by the NCW from New Beacon Books, the UK’s first black publisher, specialist bookshop and international book distributor.

The NCW’s Early Career Awards.

The NCW’s Early Career Awards were created to celebrate and support early career writers. The two other awards in the portfolio are the University of East Anglia (UEA) New Forms Award, for an innovative and daring new voice in fiction, and the Laura Kinsella Fellowship, which recognises an exceptional writer who has experienced limiting circumstances or is currently underrepresented in literary fiction. The winners of these awards each receive £4,000 and a bespoke programme of support provided by the NCW, supported by Arts Council England.


About the Desmond Elliott Prize:

Derek Owusu
Desmond Elliott Prize

The Desmond Elliott Prize is an annual award for a first novel written in English and published in the UK. Worth £10,000 to the winner, the Prize is named after the literary agent and publisher, Desmond Elliott, in memory of his passion for discovering and nurturing emerging authors.

First awarded in 2008, the Prize has a track record of spotting outstandingly talented novelists at the beginning of their careers, with former winners including Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and Claire Fuller for Our Endless Numbered Days, as well as Preti Taneja for We That Are Young.

Submissions for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2021 are now open and publishers from across the UK and Ireland are encouraged to submit literary fiction debuts for consideration. The winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize receives £10,000 prize money plus a year-round platform of support and mentorship from the NCW to include residency opportunities, mentoring and industry insight tailored to their needs.



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