The 2020 search for the nation’s best stories, poems, articles, and screenplays came to an end on Boxing Day `as we celebrated the shortlisted writers of the 2020 Young Muslim Writers Awards. The winners from across 12 categories were announced by speakers and judges including Director of the Royal Society of Literature Molly Rosenberg, multi-award-winning authors Kwame Alexander and Na’ima B Robert, and writer and director Raisah Ahmed, amongst others. As well as speeches, the viewers were treated to readings of the winning entries by the young winners themselves.
Organised by the UK charity Muslim Hands, the ceremony was hosted in association with the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study (University of London). Though past ceremonies have been held in a central London venue, the 2020 ceremony was instead televised by the official media partner Islam Channel, which broadcast the ceremony to millions of households around the world due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions.
Tariq Nasir (Director of Governance at Muslim Hands) and Professor Clare Lees (Director of the Institute of English Studies) welcomed viewers with opening remarks. Before announcing an award, children’s author Na’ima B Robert encouraged writers to find their “authentic voice” and to share the stories that they really care about.
Children’s author Robin Stevens added, “The only two pieces of writing advice that I can ever give aspiring authors is first, to read a huge amount. Read every story you can, read everything, every genre that you want to pick up. And, secondly, write a lot. Write down stories and poems, anything that inspires you, that interests you, that you enjoy.”
Reflecting on the challenging year, Molly Rosenberg noted, “2020 has brought unexpected changes and new difficulties to all our lives – it’s been hard to adjust to new ways of living, but the chance, at the end of it, to read so many talented young writers has reminded me of the power of young literature. To give us a way to express what we’re going through, and to take us away from it, too, to other times and places.”
To round off the ceremony, the Chairman of Muslim Hands, Syed Lakhte Hassanain, encouraged young writers to take part in the 2021 competition which will be opening later this month, and announced the 2020 Writer of the Year, who is selected from the 12 category winners and is awarded to the young writer to demonstrates writing excellence beyond their age.
To get a taste of this year’s shortlisted entries, read the 2020 anthology here.
2020 List of winners
Key Stage 1 Poetry
Humayrah Timol – Magic Spells
Key Stage 1 Short Story
Race in Space – Muhammad Hassan Sheikh
Key Stage 2 Poetry – Ages 7 to 11
SAFE AT HOME – Eiliyah Ali
Key Stage 2 Short Story
The Sinister – Sophie Hanif
Key Stage 3 Short Story
Hobson’s Choice – Numa Tasneem Karnachi
Key Stage 3 Poetry – Ages 11 to 14
Little Little Spider – Aisha Green
Key Stage 3 Journalism
Homework – The Door to Success – Riyad Salah
Key Stage 3 Screenplay
GBC News – Numa Tasneem Karnachi
Key Stage 4 Poetry – Ages 14 to 16
The Waves of War – Weiyen Tan
Key Stage 4 Short Story
Aster ad Astra – Ameerah Kola-Olukotun
Key Stage 4 Journalism
Private vs Public Schools: Why the Divide? – Ameerah Kola-Olukotun
Key Stage 4 Screenplay
The Johnsons – Amina Mohamed
Writer of the Year 2020
Numa Tasneem Karnachi for her screenplay GBC News