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Univ’s Next Novelist winner

Univs Next Novelist WinnerThe winner of the “Univ’s Next Novelist” competition is Memoona Ahmed (2018, Experimental Psychology) with Where the Sun Goes, a story of the power of an unspoken bond between two people.

The competition was organised by Amanda Brookfield (1979, English) – novelist and inaugural Visitor in the Creative Arts at Univ – in conjunction with Boldwood Books. As the winner Memoona will be eligible for support from Boldwood in developing her story and bringing it to market.

Set in Hawke’s Bay, Pakistan, the story follows the life of 21 year old Maah-Noor Massood and her best friend Ismail Rahman, known as Sunny. Maah-Noor is the daughter of a wealthy retired Air Force captain while Sunny and his mother work as household servants for her neighbours. Maah-Noor dreams of telling the world her stories but, after graduating, she is forced into an arranged marriage with an egotistical bully. Memoona says that she hopes “…it speaks to women around the world who are discouraged from following their dreams because their worth is valued so little.”

Memoona is an active member of the creative writing scene at Oxford, including writing for Univ’s Roots and their Branches liberation magazine. She is also an active member of the Oxford University Islamic Society.

The Boldwood Books Team with Amanda Brookfield

Sarah Ritherdon, Publishing Director of of Boldwood Books, in announcing Memoona as the winner said, “I was lucky enough to be the first in our team to read the winning submission… one of my initial impressions was of how accomplished the writing was and how complete the world in the novel felt; it is thronged with rich sounds, smells and sights which leap of the page and immerse you right into the heart of the story.”

Second place was awarded to Isabel Ewing (2018, PGCE History) who submitted Sophia, which follows the trials and tribulations of a recent graduate from university; in an attempt to escape for a summer and cure her broken heart, she travels to Italy to work as an au-pair for the messy Ricci family.

Isabel studied History at Durham University before beginning a PGCE at Univ last September. She worked as an au-pair in Milan the summer before coming to Univ.

Univs Next Novelist Winner

Isabel, Memoona and Daniel

Daniel Cooksey (2018, English) was awarded third place for In Transit, which concerns the life of a woman living off-the-grid. Kat is a member of an organisation of assassins known as the “Travellers’ Lodge”. Her only connection to the world is her sister, Emma, whom she meets secretly once a year. However, this time the meeting does not go to plan and Emma is taken by the Lodge…

Daniel’s play Optimum was shown last year at the Oxford Playhouse as part of the OP Young Playmakers project and he was also stage manager for Univ Players’ most recent production, Amadeus.

Amanda Ridout, Founder and CEO of Boldwood Books thanks all those who made submission, noting that they were all of incredible high standard, whilst Amanda Brookfield concluded by saying, “These submissions exceeded my wildest expectations and the shortlist was so strong… Mamoona you write from the heart and with such freshness and originality, I have no doubt that you will be a seriously successful writer.”

Our thanks to Sir Ivor and Lady Crewe for hosting a most memorable winner’s party, and to all who worked so tirelessly to make the Univ’s Next Novelist competition possible.  

Published: 12 June 2019

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