The judges for the 2022 Desmond Elliott Prize are Derek Owusu (chair), Symeon Brown and Lyndsey Fineran.

Derek Owusu (Chair)

Derek Owusu is an award-winning writer and poet from North London. He discovered his passion for literature late in life while studying exercise science at university. Unable to afford a change of degree, he began reading voraciously and sneaking into English Literature lectures at the University of Manchester.

In 2019, Owusu collated, edited and contributed to SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, an anthology exploring the experiences of Black men in Britain.

His first novel, That Reminds Me, and the first work of fiction to be published by Stormzy’s Merky Books imprint, won the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction, the judges praising it as a ‘transcendent work of literature.’ His second solo work, Losing The Plot, is due to be published in 2022 with Canongate Books. Owusu was also one of the founding members of the Black Writers Guild, whose formation was due to the lack of representation and inequalities that exist within mainstream publishing in the UK.

Website / Twitter

Derek says:

‘It’s an honour to judge any prize but it’s even more special to work with a prize that did so much for my career and continues to do so for others. And I’m very happy I can be a part of that – I’m really looking forward to reading so many incredible books.’


Symeon Brown

Symeon Brown is an award-winning news correspondent on Channel 4 News, covering culture and home affairs. His writing been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the British Journalism Awards. He is also the curator of the Good Readers Book Club, reviewing and interviewing leading British literary talent. He was also editor-in-chief of Channel 4’s News critically acclaimed #blacktofront season. His debut book, Get Rich Or Lie Trying, is published by Atlantic Books in March 2022.


Lyndsey Fineran

Lyndsey Fineran is the Programme & Commissions Manager for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival – the oldest, and one of the largest, book festivals in the world. In her time with the Festival she has been responsible for building a live literature programme, talent development (including founding the flagship ‘Debuts and Cocktails’ event which champions debut novelists), commissions, and international partnerships, and was part of the team that delivered a pioneering hybrid edition of the 2020 Festival that won ‘Event of the Year’ at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Awards, as well as three separate ‘Event of the Year’ wins at the SoGlos Awards between 2018 and 2021.

Originally from the North-East and now Bristol based, she holds degrees in Literature from Durham and St Andrews Universities, is on the board of the British Arts Festivals Association, chairs literary events and is a Society of Young Publishers Mentor. In 2019 she was selected for The Bookseller’s Rising Stars programme, which identifies and champions the future leaders of the book industry and was recently named as one of The Top 50 Most Inspirational Women in Gloucestershire in 2021 by SoGlos.


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