UK rapper Stormzy played a major part in a London writer scooping the prestigious Desmond Elliott Prize this month.
Topping the Hip Hop charts, rapper Stormzy proves he can turn his hand to pretty much anything. Launching #Merky Books in 2018, Stormzy branched out to start his publishing venture in partnership with Penguin Random House. Overseen by Stormzy himself, #Merky Books main focus is to help young writers in particular publish their books. Now the ‘Heavy Is The Head’ rapper has without a doubt made waves in the writing world. In the vision of Stormzy’s #Merky Books, fellow Londoner hit the big time with his debut novel.
London writer Derek Owusu debut novel, That Reminds Me’, received praise by judges as being a ‘transcendent work of literature’. The novel follows the life of a boy called K from foster care to his birth family in Tottenham. Similarly, it mirrors the author’s life, from being in foster care to moving in with his family in London. At which point his diagnosis for borderline personality disorder came about. As a result, he created K almost as an alter ego, to try to understand what had led to him to the breakdown and diagnosis.
The Desmond Elliott Prize goes to a debut novel written in English and published in the UK and Ireland. in addition to the award, Owusu will also receive £10,000 in prize money and mentorship from the National Centre for Writing. Furthermore, Owusu has a two book deal with #Merky Books meaning additional promotion from Stormzy.
Chair of the judging panel Preti Taneja admits that the novel blew the whole panel away. “Despite the terrors around him, this young black man has an instinctive love for the world that burns at the core of the book,” she added. “The judges and I were as shattered by the truths of the story as we were moved by the talent of its writer. Derek Owusu has given us a unique, profound and transcendent work of literature. We want as many readers as possible to discover it. Once they do they will return to again and again.”
When #Merky Books launched, Stormzy took to his Instagram to proudly announce the imprint. He wrote; “I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen. Hopefully #Merky Books can now be a reference point for them to say ‘I can be an author’ and for that to be a realistic and achievable goal.”